Proposed Truro youth committee hopes for more young voices to be heard
The youth advisory committee will be established by a group of local students
January 14, 2021, 3:42 pm ASTLast Updated: January 14, 2021, 4:11 pm
Liam Holeiter and Averi Winn want to make sure that youth are being heard in their community, which is why they’re working to establish a youth advisory committee in Truro, N.S.
In an interview, Holeiter explained that youth are affected by municipal politics whether they know it or not. He said a youth council will be a great way to get involved, because “to speak to town councillors is not always an easy thing to do.”
“Even if it seems easy to find their information and send an email, there’s a lot of barriers there,” Holeiter said.
The two École Acadienne students, Holeiter and Winn, proposed the committee to Truro council on Monday. Holeiter said Coun. Juliana Barnard originally approached him with the idea and will be working with the group going forward.
“I always find I learn so much from youth, I feel like we really learn together,” Barnard said at council.
“Sometimes when you’re from one generation, you kind of aren’t necessarily connected to the other generation, so it’s really great to keep that connection.”
Youth committees and councils exist on municipal, provincial and federal levels that help with decision-making. Currently, there are four active committees in Nova Scotia: the Amherst youth town council, HRM’s youth advisory committee, the town of Bridgewater youth advisory committee, and the IWK youth advisory committee, according to the Youth Council Coalition of Canada.
Truro Mayor Bill Mills said in the council meeting that the town tried to initiate a youth council years ago, but it’s no longer active.
Mills said he’s concerned with the council keeping continuity in its membership, and fears that some youth may be intimidated during meetings.
“One of the things that we found when we had our last youth council was that we had a variety of age groups, and it can be a little bit intimidating,” Mills said. “For example, we had our meetings here in the council chambers, and the younger kids tend not to say anything.”
Currently, the group has five members and is hoping to meet with town councillors soon to discuss next steps. Winn said their main focus right now is getting established.
Once the youth council is established, they will begin looking into working with community organizations, like the Lotus group and Truro Homeless Shelter.
In their proposal to council, Winn said that there are communal services that both youth and adults need — but it works differently when a youth is seeking the service.
She explained that when someone under the age of 16 goes to the Truro Homeless Shelter, the shelter is required to call children’s services. According to the Homeless Hub, 20 per cent of Canada’s homeless population are youth aged 13-24, many of which were also in the care of child protective services.
Winn said issues like this make for an “entirely different process” for youth, which can be complicated and scary.
‘Youth engagement is not a partisan issue’
Holeiter’s looking forward to getting involved with the municipality after spending “a lot of time” working at a provincial level as the executive at large for the Nova Scotia Young New Democrats.
He said that non-partisanship is a big requirement for them, and that their main goal is for youth voices to be heard “no matter what your voice is.”
“Youth engagement is not a partisan issue. It is a political issue that we must face to make sure that we have youth involved. Youth involvement will never be a partisan issue.”
Holeiter’s focus will be on youth and mental health, as well as working with council to create more organized events for youth in the community.
He has been in contact with members of the Amherst youth council to learn more about the establishment process and their local impact.
Both Winn and Holeiter are looking forward to working in co-operation with the town.
“We’re open to suggestions and we’re really adaptable with this because we want to make sure this works, and it works for a long time,” Winn said.
For more information about Truro youth council, or if you’d like to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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