Four years ago, I walked into Lucy Maud Montgomery Public School and placed my first vote ever.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t my first vote ever. I had voted for my prom queen, school president, the grade reps, even though I was on that ballot every year except grade eleven because I was the youngest person ever to get the Public Relations position-oops, I digress.
This vote was way more serious than any of that, though. I was voting for who would run our city, or at least play a large part in the running of our city.
Since then, I haven’t stopped voting. Even though this is only the second opportunity to do so, I have made sure that I take part in all elections as a voter. More importantly, though, I have made sure to educate myself on each candidate’s platform so that I vote for who’s vision is best aligned with my own, and better yet-my needs.
So you can only imagine how heart-broken I am when I try to indulge in conversations with people my age who have either no idea who they’re voting for, no idea who is even running, and no idea what each candidate stands for.
Today, while driving home and listening to CBC radio like no other 22-year-old in their right mind, I heard an interesting story about the mayoral election happening in Winnipeg. Although I highly doubt it has been much less fascinating than the circus of events we’ve got going on at City Hall, I was still intrigued by what I heard.
Winnipeg has one of the largest Aboriginal populations in the region in Canada, and for the first time, a First Nations female candidate is running for mayor. This has changed the context of the elections, and voting completely.
The leader of a grassroots campaign called Winnipeg Indigenous Rock the Vote says that with a First Nations candidate, other candidates are now paying more attention to the needs of the voters. And since such a large amount of them are First Nations, the overall feel of this election is unlike any other election she’s seen.
Someone with even the slightest understanding of the struggles faced by First Nations people in Canada will know how much of a milestone it is for them to finally have a voice, a representative, and some well-deserved attention from political figures.
This got me thinking. If it took this long for:
a) candidates to finally place a value on the votes of First Nations
b) First Nations to actually have enough hope that things will change that they do get up and vote
c) a First Nations female candidate to run for mayor
How long are young Torontonians going to wait?
Because last time I checked, Ontario universities have the highest tuition in all of Canada. Plus, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to find jobs even after forking out nearly $7,000 a year to get that degree.
So I vote.
I vote because I matter. I vote because I care. I vote because I was lucky enough to be born into a democratic society where I can actually write a name down on a ballot and have it count for something.
And you should vote too.
Because you matter. And because you really should care. And because the more young people that vote, the more attention we will draw from politicians to the issues that we face, the issues that we know all too well about.
You have exactly one week to decide on a candidate. Visit http://www.toronto.ca to get the full list of mayoral, councilor, and school trustee candidates. Visit their websites, see what their about, but more importantly, find out what you’re about.
You’d be surprised what you can learn about yourself.