Mock vote to give students in Nunavut chance to have their say in territorial election
1,500 students are expected to participate in a mock vote on Oct. 30
Students in grades 4 to 12, who are too young to vote in Nunavut's election, will instead get the chance to cast their ballots in a mock election at their schools on Oct. 30.
A national charity, Civix, sent ballots modelled on real ballots with the actual candidates names on them to schools participating in the Student Vote initiative this week.
This is the first time the charity has organized this for a territorial election in Nunavut; the charity was here for the first time in 2015 for the federal election. At that time 12 schools participated, and had the same result as the real election, choosing Hunter Tootoo with the Liberal Party to represent the territory.
Dombrowski says she expects 1,500 students to participate this time. The 28 schools are spread out through 19 of the territory's 22 constituencies. Only the constituency of Iqaluit-Manirajaq does not have a school within its boundaries.
In Kuglutuk, where Mila Kamingoak was acclaimed, students will be voting for candidates in Cambridge Bay to familiarize themselves with the process.
Educated and engaged
Creating engaged and educated voters is the whole point of the program.
Starting six weeks before the election, Civix suggests activities to teachers to explore what democracy is, how to vote and alternate forms of governance that exist.
Dombrowski says the charity modified one of their activities, which involves students deciding how to go about building a bridge with popsicle sticks, to include three types of decision making: a dictatorship, a majority vote, similar to Canada's federal system, and consensus-style discussion, similar to the territorial system.
All materials were translated into Inuktitut and range in complexity to suit the grade being taught.
The students are in charge of rolling out the entire election campaign. They take on the roles of returning officer, polling clerk and ballot counters.
At Jonah Amitnaaq School in Baker Lake, this year the Ggrade 10 students are taking charge. They're trying to get the constituency's two candidates to visit the class and talk about the issues, then they'll relay what they've learned to the other students, according to their social studies teacher Rebecca Walker.
"Students will come down class by class, the Grade 10s will mark them off the registration list, just like you would if you were going to actually vote," Walker said.
Familiar with issues and process
Voting screens and ballot boxes have already been delivered to the school.
Walker has been spending time with her students discussing the issues they want to see addressed during the election. She says many circle around the issue of suicide, talking about the need for youth recreation and improved education.
"What I've always wished for was roads connecting to other communities. It feels like we would feel more connected to each other that way and not so stuck and have more opportunities," said 16-year-old Janette Seeteenak.
"I see a lot of sad people who don't really have help and people who have mental illness, don't really get the support that they need," Grade 11 student Rachel Tagoona Tapatai told CBC.
Walker has also been talking about the nearby mine with her older classes, so students are also thinking about Inuit employment rates and environmental protection plans.
She says it's important to make students comfortable both with the process and the issues.
"Often people will shy away from things they don't know or they don't understand, so if they have a chance to participate in a school in a safe environment, where they can ask questions and be involved. It's fun."
With files from Jordan Konek