By: Sophie Hershfield
As a kid, I always had a passion for listening to the news and talking about what was going on in the world. I first got involved in the Generation program because it gave me the opportunity to meet teens who felt the same, and learn from experienced people about how our country functions.
I’ve been given such incredible opportunities because of my involvement in the Generation program, and I am so happy to be graduating from high school with two years of working with CJPAC under my belt.
CJPAC has given me a chance to have a voice in politics. Over the past two years I’ve become a more politically educated person and I’ve learned to form my own opinions while also listening to others. I’ve learned first-hand from people who have spent their lives in politics about how the system works, and through CJPAC I volunteered during the federal election. I was able to apply the skills I learned through Generation while volunteering. I worked closely with a candidate I believed in, and for the first time, despite being too young to vote, I truly felt like I was making an impact in democracy. I worked as part of the political system and interacted with members of the public, gaining a new perspective on how our government functions and how Canadians interact with our elected officials.
Last year’s trip to Ottawa gave me a chance to meet other passionate teens, learn alongside them, and hear from many incredible guest speakers. My favourite memory from last year’s trip was a game of “Spectrum”, where we were able to discuss topics we felt strongly about. It forced all of us to physically and verbally stand by our opinions. Discussing so many polarizing issues led to insightful and passionate discourse.
We also got the chance to do a mock question period, enacting part of the day-to-day work of politicians. We then got to watch a real Question Period in the House of Commons, and we felt like we had a better understanding of the give and take of political debate.
I’ve built connections with other students, and developed friendships across the country. I have also built professional connections with organizations and politicians that will help me in university and in life. The Generation program has provided me with the foundation I need to be an engaged member of Canadian democracy. Everything I have learned has taught me about the value of our government, and the power of me, and young people like me, to change it.
Sophie Hershfield was a Generation participant from 2014-2016 and is currently studying at the University of Winnipeg.