WATCH — Kids across the country take part in mock vote
Student candidates even held a debate
When Nicole Miller discovered some of her closest friends didn’t care about the federal election, she wanted to help them understand why it’s important.
“I’ve asked a lot of kids in the hallways and most of them are like no, they’re not interested in voting because they think there are no good options or they think they don’t know any of the options and it feels very overwhelming for them,” she said.
At 17, Nicole isn’t even old enough to vote, but she believes it’s important to start getting informed at a young age.
That's one of the reasons why she participated in Student Vote Canada 2019, a parallel election for kids under the voting age that coincides with the federal election.
17-year-old Nicole Miller from Calgary started a voting committee at Central Memorial High School. (Justin Pennell/CBC)
Organized by Elections Canada and CIVIX, the learning program, now in its sixth year, provides elementary and high school students the opportunity to experience the voting process firsthand.
CIVIX is a non-partisan, national charity that’s dedicated to “building the skills and habits of engaged citizenship among young Canadians.”
These Grade 12 Social Studies students at Central Memorial High School in Calgary are learning about democracy through a mock election. (Justin Pennell/CBC)
More than a million students in 9,500 schools participate in Student Vote, where they learn about government and the electoral process, engage in the campaign and cast ballots for the official local candidates.
“They are all the next generation of future voters,” Nicole said. “It matters that ... they have a say.”
Nicole Miller is the NDP candidate for her school’s mock federal election vote for Student Vote Canada 2019. (Submitted by Nicole Cameron)
As part of the program, Nicole organized a mock debate at her school.
“I think a mock debate can really help kids understand the issues on a more relatable level,” she said.
“It’s a lot easier to listen to your classmates talk about these issues, and either agree or disagree,” Nicole said.
From left to right, Kaitlyn Miller, Ayden Jefferey Wilkins, Grace Van Bakel, Nicole Miller and Josh Hart mock debating for Student Vote Canada 2019. (Submitted by Nicole Cameron)
Education and the economy are some of the issues important to students at her school, but climate change is at the top.
“I am pro oil sands, which is a fairly controversial opinion for many students and people, especially in Alberta,” Nicole said.
“I’m not saying climate change doesn’t exist, because it does. We should look at long-term solutions," she said.
"If we shut down the oil sands and the world is saved ... the need for fossil fuels is still going to be there.”
Ayden Jefferey Wilkins represents the People’s Party of Canada in Central Memorial High School’s mock debate. (Submitted by Nicole Cameron)
Fellow student Toby Duska feels differently.
He believes there isn’t time to slowly switch to greener energy.
“It’s safer to take more dramatic action now because honestly, who knows how global temperatures are going to affect everything?” he said.
The fight against climate change is one of the election issues that’s important to 17-year-old Toby Duska (Justin Pennell/CBC)
Strong opinions like Toby’s inspired Nicole to encourage other students to have their voice heard through voting.
“If we can help them get informed and help make the voting process easier, then it’s really worth it because it’s their choices and their decisions and votes that will be impacting the future.”