The 90th session of the B.C. Youth Parliament recently concluded in Victoria with a strong mandate of community service.
Tsawwassen’s Hannah Burnett, a fourth year BCYP member, served as deputy leader of the Opposition.
“I helped the leader of the opposition in everything they do, organizing the shadow cabinet and I was also critic of Regional Youth Parliament,” she said. “They are smaller versions of the BCYP that are spread throughout the region for kids who are high school age and it’s a great way to educate them on Parliament and get them involved.”
Burnett, who graduated from South Delta Secondary, was introduced to the BCYP at a young age and both her parents went to BCYP.
“When I joined my first year I learned a lot and just decided I wanted to continue doing this for as long as I could,” she said.
During the past three years she said she has grown in her roles at BCYP.
“My first couple of years I didn’t talk that much in the House, but this year I was able to really stand up and put forward my ideas,” she said. “It can be a scary thing because there are strict procedures, so getting comfortable with that takes time. With a bigger role such as deputy leader of the Opposition also allowed me to stand up and be more vocal.”
BCYP forms a non-partisan government during its session, held Dec. 27 to 31, yet just as MLAs do, Burnett and her colleagues take the legislation they pass back to their communities to make a difference throughout the province.
In accordance with their motto, “youth serving youth,” the legislation and private members’ bills they pass will be turned into action. All that is debated in the House is written by members, and will lay out a plan for the organization’s activities throughout the year.
During the session members passed resolutions that supported expanding the B.C. high school curriculum, bringing ride sharing to B.C. and reducing the food waste created at grocery stores.
“The social service aspect of the organization is what really excites me more than the political side,” Burnett said. “This week is important, but throughout the year you are expected to be involved in a number of fundraisers, social activities and service projects.”
Besides the session in Victoria, BCYP members will hold six regional youth parliaments for high-school aged youth to learn parliamentary procedure, as well as running a summer camp, Camp Phoenix, for children who would not otherwise be able to attend camp. Celebrating its 51st year, Camp Phoenix is completely staffed by the members of BCYP and funded through their fundraising efforts.
“Camp Phoenix is a very rewarding opportunity to be involved in. I really enjoy that aspect of service and giving back to the community,” Burnett said.