In a colorful opening ceremony in the Legislative Chamber at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, over 60 young participants representing CPA Branches in eight of the nine CPA Regions – Africa; Asia; Australia; British Islands and Mediterranean; Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic; Canada; India; Pacific – came together for the start of a week long program of events. The Falkland Islands are represented by Jody Aldridge and Gemma Finn.
The 8th Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP8) was opened by Mr. Akbar Khan, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and saw addresses by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The opening ceremony also featured a blessing from Elder Mary Ann Thomas and a poetry reading from Zoe Duhaime.
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia said: We are excited to welcome youth from across the Commonwealth to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The 8th Commonwealth Youth Parliament is a unique opportunity for youth to develop leadership and experience and to be empowered to make a positive difference in shaping the future of their own communities.
The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Mr Akbar Khan said: “I am delighted to be able to attend the 8th Commonwealth Youth Parliament at the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in Canada. With 60% of the Commonwealth’s population aged under 30, the Commonwealth Youth Parliament is one of the key programmes organized by the CPA and responds to the needs of its young constituents. The CPA recognizes that young people have a proven capability to lead change, and are a vital and valuable investment for now and the future.
The Commonwealth Youth Parliament provides a key development opportunity for young people with ambitions of public office and is designed to demonstrate to potential future young parliamentarians the fundamentals behind the processes of Parliament. The Commonwealth Youth Parliament gives participants a Pan-Commonwealth experience and a hugely valuable networking opportunity with other participants from across the Commonwealth as well as with current young Members of Parliament who act as mentors throughout the week. The Commonwealth Youth Parliament offers participants an opportunity to experience one of the key institutions which underpin democracy and good governance and we are proud to partner with the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in Canada for this year’s event.”
Participants at the Commonwealth Youth Parliament then started their business of the opening day and began to experience parliamentary life in a real-life situation in the legislative chamber of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The young Parliamentarians met with their party caucuses before preparing for the first parliamentary session of the week. The program for the Commonwealth Youth Parliament includes taking part in parliamentary procedures as party representatives or independents, debating legislation and motions, holding a Committee of the Whole on a youth employment bill and facing the press in a ‘mock’ media conference. Participants at the 8th Commonwealth Youth Parliament experienced debating a parliamentary bill on youth employment.
The Commonwealth Youth Parliament features young people aged 18 to 29 who experience being a young Parliamentarian and the program also includes a number of current Members of Commonwealth Parliaments and parliamentary staff who act as mentors throughout the proceedings. Participants experience life in the parliamentary spotlight and gain practical experience of the parliamentary system whilst learning how the next generation would approach parliamentary politics. Formal parliamentary practice adapted from several Commonwealth countries is followed and the proceedings are observed under the watchful eyes of experienced parliamentary officials. The agenda included debates, votes on Bills and government motions.
*The full list of CPA Branches being represented by the young participants are: Alberta (Canada); Australia Capital Territory; British Columbia (Canada); British Virgin Islands; Canada (Federal); Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Guyana; Isle of Man; Jamaica; Jersey; Kenya; Montserrat; New Brunswick; New South Wales (Australia); New Zealand; Nigeria (Federal); Niue; Northern Cape (South Africa); Northern Territory (Australia); North West Province (South Africa); North West Territory (Canada); Ontario (Canada); Pakistan (National Assembly); Prince Edward Island (Canada); Punjab, Pakistan; Quebec (Canada); Rajasthan (India); Scotland; Sri Lanka; St Helena; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos; Uttar Pradesh (India); UK; Wales; Zambia; Zanzibar.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), now in its 105th year with HM The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth as its Patron, exists to develop, promote and support Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and to implement the enduring values of the Commonwealth.