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B.C. students head to the polls

Student Vote BC brings democracy and governance to the classroom



While British Columbians of legal voting age won't head to the polls until tomorrow, more than 180,000 elementary and high school students are casting mock ballots across the province today as part of Student Vote BC.

The campaign offers a chance for teachers to bring concepts like democracy and governance into the classroom.

Jennifer Black, who teaches grades four and five at Myrtle Philip Community School, said students have been learning about the different kinds of governments globally, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the importance of democracy.

Heady topics for 10 year olds — how do you make such concepts relatable?

"You know what? It's relatable because they are living in this community — they are so active in Whistler and they sort of live the topics," Black said.

"They get stuck in the traffic, they feel the impact of all the travellers here, they are feeling the global climate change, and they're really interested, critically thinking kids. They're engaged learners."

Students were visited by local election candidates Jordan Sturdy (BC Liberals), Michelle Livaja (NDP), Dana Taylor (Green) and Tristan Galbraith (Independent).

"Tristan Galbraith was a great person for us to learn from, because he's a young guy who is passionate about change, he doesn't have a background in politics, he doesn't even have a background that would necessarily lead someone to go into a political role, but he's saying, 'you know what you guys? You can make a difference,'" Black said. "'Follow your dreams and be a leader.'"

Some of the Grade 4 students at Myrtle Philip shared their thoughts before the Monday morning vote began.

Breton Otieno, nine, said he learned that housing is an issue in the riding.

"In Pemberton there are people that have to leave their homes because there's not enough houses, and they're selling them for expensive prices," Otieno said, adding that he thinks it's important that everyone has food and shelter.

Ten-year-old Megan Bedard said it was fun to listen to the candidates and the students had a lot of questions, but her vote would probably go to the Green Party.

"(I would vote for) Dana Taylor, because they don't want to cut down the trees and destroy nature," she said.

Thomas Legg, also 10, said he wants to see candidates address the traffic issue in Whistler.

"I think that I would vote for the person who cares and is most community-like, so the person who is most knowing of what's going on in the Sea to Sky area," Legg said.

"Vote for the person that you like, not what other people want you to vote for."

The Student Vote project is coordinated by Elections BC, the BC Teachers Federation, the Vancouver Foundation and the Government of Canada.

Results of the student vote will be released when polls close tomorrow at 8 p.m.

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