By Lokman Wong
My name is Lokman Wong. I moved to Campbell River in June of 2017. I am a Grade 10 student at Campbell River Christian School. This is my fourth year involved in air cadets, and I am also a member of the Campbell River Youth Action Committee.
I visited Ottawa in March to participate in the Forum for Young Canadians. Ottawa, our nation’s capital; for many years, Ottawa was only a city on a map, somewhere for elementary kids to label with a star, signifying it as the capital of Canada.
On March 18, I left Campbell River for one of the most profound experiences yet. For a week, I and 119 other youth from across Canada participated in the program. Meals, laughs, and memories were shared as we learned about federal politics, were given opportunities to speak in the House of Commons, and listened to inspiring speakers, especially the Honourable Senator Yonah Martin. All this amounts to a week I will never forget.
Though I had a basic knowledge base of how federal politics works before I attended Forum, seeing the buildings and witnessing live federal politics helped to solidify my knowledge. One of the highlights of the week was watching Question Period. Though Justin Trudeau was sadly not present, it was still a great experience seeing in real time how politics works within the House of Commons.
Another highlight of the week was speaking in the House of Commons. Students from each group volunteered to deliver a member statement on an issue youth are facing; for a minute, I delivered a member statement on the importance of youth engagement, and the applause that ended the moment is something I will never forget.
Watching Question Period and speaking in the House of Commons were notable highlights, but my favorite moment of the week was participating in a roundtable led by the Honourable Senator Yonah Martin of BC on how to be ourselves. She had so much knowledge she gleaned from her past experiences, it was an honour to be able to learn from such an accomplished woman.
Overall, this week granted me new friends, experiences, and memories I will never forget.
All the moments shared with other like-minded and passionate youth will be relived years down the road, and has transformed Ottawa from a name on a map to a city of friendship and inspiration.
I encourage students aged 15 to 19 who have a little interest in politics or debating, and who want to meet like-minded, equally passionate people from across Canada to apply (http://forum.ca/the-program/application/?lang=en)! The week will feel short, and yet, the knowledge, friendships, and memories will live on, relived years down the road.
Lastly, I would like to thank the Lions Club, a family friend, and St. Peter’s Anglican Church, for sponsoring me to attend Forum for Young Canadians.