BC Youth Parliament takes over the Legislature

By Contributor
December 19th, 2017

Though MLAs have gone home for the holidays, the Legislature will soon ring once again with passionate voices as the British Columbia Youth Parliament (BCYP) prepares to hold its 89th session. From December 27 to 31, a group of 97 young people ages 16-21 from every corner of the province will gather in Victoria to debate legislation, address social issues, and learn parliamentary procedure, among other things. They are excited to be joined by the Honourable Darryl Plecas, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, who will serve as the Honourary Lieutenant Governor for the 89th British Columbia Youth Parliament.

BCYP will form a non-partisan government during their session, yet just as MLAs do, these young people will take the legislation they pass back to their communities to make a difference throughout the province. In accordance with their motto, “youth serving youth,” the legislation and Private Members Bills they pass will be turned into action. Such action includes their decisions about the operations of their summer camp, described below, and how BCYP governs itself. All that is debated in the House is written by members, and will lay out a plan for the organization’s activities throughout the year.

This includes holding six Regional Youth Parliaments (RYPs) for high-school aged youth to learn parliamentary procedure. Those regions include Northern BC and the Interior, as well as the more populous regions of North Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. BCYP also runs a summer camp, Camp Phoenix, for children who would not otherwise be able to attend camp. Celebrating its 50th year, Camp Phoenix is completely staffed by the members of BCYP and funded through their fundraising efforts.

In addition to debating and voting on their legislation, BCYP members will consider important social issues through their Private Members Resolutions — topics this year will include public financing of political parties, construction of the Site C dam, and school uniforms. Resolutions on topics that fall within the authority of the Legislature of British Columbia are vigorously debated, and if approved by the majority, are passed on to the BC Legislature as recommendations from the BCYP.

“I am honoured to have been elected to serve as Premier amongst such an inspirational group of young people. This one week is the first step towards a year full of activities and projects that our Members will carry out across BC. Each member was selected by organizations in their community. They are free to vote independently and as their conscience tells them. Our Parliament brings together some of the most determined and dedicated youth in BC. I look forward to supporting and working with the 96 other Members of Youth Parliament to achieve our organization’s goals for this year.”

– Sky Losier, Premier of the 89th British Columbia Youth Parliament

Additionally, BCYP will be celebrating this year as the first year women have been part of the organization for a greater amount of time than the years they were denied entry. The organization is happy to have a gender-balanced Cabinet for the second year in a row, as we have seen in the BC Legislature and Canada’s House of Commons.

High school students who are interested in the BCLYP can find out more by contacting the BCYP’s Minister of New Member Relations, Charlotte White:  Charlotte.White@bcyp.org

Participation in the Youth Parliament does not depend on being able to pay; grants and bursaries ensure that all potential youth “members of parliament” can take part, whether or not they can pay the flat fee for the associated costs.  

To check out all the information on the BCYP website, go to:  https://bcyp.org/

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