A youth committee trying to encourage more young people, especially women, as well as members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community to run for municipal office in Rossland has suggested diversity training for city council and staff.
Seven Summits students Cooper Legler, Raya Delaire, Lily Holmes, and Kaydance Nowak are the Power and Pride youth committee, who presented two main asks to council this week.
“We’re asking council to implement diversity training to create a better environment and be more informed when making decisions that impact those groups,” Holmes says.
“And asking them to take a bigger step in reaching out to schools to make politics seem less daunting to any youth, but [especially] queer youth and young women who might be interested.”
However, she adds, council is already accessible and interested in hearing from youth, “so don’t be afraid to reach about things you care about it.”
The committee was struck a few months ago with funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and led by Tara Howse, a Rosslander who has run federally for the Green Party.
Among the people they talked to was Amita Kuttner, the interim federal Green Party leader, who is the first trans person to helm a national party. They also consulted with Rossland mayor Kathy Moore and councillor Janice Nightingale, Trail Pride, and several gay men involved in local politics about their experiences.
“We talked about different pressures,” Holmes says. “Some felt spoken over and stepped on in politics when it’s such a straight male dominated scene.”
Legler says he was keen to be part of the committee.
“I’m interested in politics and I want to put my passions toward interests I care about it,” he says. “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community I feel it’s important to do everything in my power to represent those who are underrepresented.”
Legler will be seeking a political science degree, but isn’t sure if he will one day run for office himself.
Nowak says she “didn’t really know anything about politics or how to use my voice, so it was a nice learning experience. I wanted to help support marginalized people join politics.”
Although council made no immediate decisions on the committee’s requests, acting mayor Andy Morel called their presentation “excellent.”
“We’re very proud of the youth in our community. It’s wonderful to see the strength and conviction of these folks to come out and advocate for themselves and our community.”