by Ava Assinewai, Annie Balfe and Naomi Hill
MINDEMOYA – The Grade 8s at Central Manitoulin Public School organized and hosted a Student Vote that saw three classes cast ballots on Wednesday, October 15 for the federal election and vote in an NDP government. Although their votes will not count towards the formal election, their voices, and those of nearly two million students across Canada, will be heard, loud and clear, by the Federal Government.
“If the next federal election is held in four years, some of our Grade 8s will be voting,” Grade 8 teacher Ms. Alberti pointed out. “We are in an era that needs long term-plans to find solutions to big problems. It is important for our youth, upon whose shoulders these problems will fall, to be given the chance to voice which direction they would like our country to take.”
Leading up to the vote, the Grade 8 students learned how Canadian politics are organized and researched, studied the federal parties and their platforms, their leaders and local representatives.
For the vote, the Grade 8s polled the whole school for the most popular election issues, then researched the attitudes and commitments made by five of the main political parties to the environment, childcare and healthcare. With that information, they made small speeches on the announcements to inform the whole school. Then, they turned the announcements into debates to have in front of the other classes who were voting.
One of the other participating classes in the student vote was Ellen Ferguson´s Grade 4/5 class. “The student vote is important because our students will vote shortly. They will need to be informed about how the government works and about the different views held by our political parties. This will help them start making decisions about what they think needs to happen in our country, as well as making sure their voice is heard through the (student) voting process,” Ms. Ferguson added.
“It was great to see students learning about the issues and discussing them with one and other, I feel very optimistic for our future knowing that it will be in their capable hands,” enthused Central Manitoulin’s principal David Wiwchar.
The Grade 8s were very positive about their experience.
“I liked the program. I think it prepared us for our future. We didn’t know anything about the election before,” said Ava Assinawai.
“This made me understand elections and voting more,” Aiden Case added.
“I thought this was cool. I feel a lot better prepared to vote in the future,” Nevaeh Harper shared.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous said, “In school, I find we don’t learn enough about the real world and the future ahead of us. I feel like I was taught something, like now I am actually better prepared, and not just with equations.”
The CMPS students voted for the Carol Hughes and the NDP with 22 votes, The Green Party and Max Chapman with 16 votes, Heather Wilson and the Liberal Party with seven votes, Dave Williamson and the Conservative Party with three votes and Dave DeLisle of the Canada People’s Party with one vote. The Rhinoceros Party did not receive any votes.