Kitchener-Waterloo

'You're deciding the future for us': What local youth want you to consider before voting

Young people say their voices will be heard in this federal election, whether or not they're old enough to vote. "I wouldn't buy for a second that youth aren't going to be engaged in this election," says a young panelist on CBC K-W's The Morning Edition.

‘We have the ability to rely on ourselves and go out and vote,’ says Umair Ahmed

Three young people joined CBC K-W's The Morning Edition to talk about what they're thinking about ahead of next month's federal election. They were (from left) Conestoga College student Umair Ahmed, Glenview Park Secondary School Grade 11 student Gracie Hoffman and Matthew Gerrits, vice president of education for the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Young people in Waterloo region want their voices to be heard in this federal election, even if they can't vote.

Hundreds gathered in Waterloo and Cambridge to voice their concerns about the environment on Friday during the Global Climate Strike.

On Thursday, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo invited three young people to sit down for a conversation about the issues important to them.

Gracie Hoffman is a Grade 11 student at Glenview Park Secondary School in Cambridge who organized the demonstration for the Global Climate Strike in her city. She says while she's too young to vote in this election, people need to listen to young voices.

"The youth are your future and you're deciding the future for us," she said to those old enough to vote.

Concerns about life after graduation

This is the first year Conestoga College student Umair Ahmed will get to vote. He said when he looks to his future, he wants to get a job after graduation and he's worried about the economy. He's worried about being able to afford a home.

And, he said, he wants to make sure other students exercise their right to cast a ballot.

"Four years ago, I was not able to vote and my future was in someone else's hands," he said, adding people his age are more aware of the issues thanks to social media and conversations at school.

"We have the ability to rely on ourselves and go out and vote."

See Umair, Matthew and Gracie's response to people who discount young voters:

Young people are engaged

Matthew Gerrits is the vice president of education for the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association. He hears concerns regularly from students about financial aid. The province has made cuts to programs, he said, but there's also some funding that comes from the federal government.

He says young people understand the issues voters face in this election.

"I don't buy that there is any lack of understanding around policy or any lack of willing to engage because students are curious," he said. "I wouldn't buy for a second that youth aren't going to be engaged in this election."

Listen to the whole panel:

Conestoga College student Umair Ahmed, University of Waterloo Student Association vice-president Matthew Gerrits and Grade 11 student at Glenview Park Secondary School in Cambridge Gracie Hoffman joined The Morning Edition to talk about the issues important to them and why older generations shouldn't discount youth in this election. 10:52

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