by Vicky Tobianah
It was my first year at McGill University in Montreal and after grappling with the heavy workload, maneuvering through a new social scene, and navigating a new city, I realized that I needed something else to complement my academic career. In high school, I was the girl that participated in every extra-curricular activity. I was a Peer Tutor, a Peer Counselor, Producer of the Mock Academy Awards, a Model United Nations participant… You name it, I was involved in it. And I loved the thrill I got from being so busy all the time. I thrived on the rush, the to-do lists, the late nights at school and meeting new people through all these activities.
After arriving at university, I needed a new thrill – something that would engage me and motivate me to make a difference. And when I looked around at my fellow students, I noticed the majority of them were apathetic. Political advocacy was almost non-existent. Amidst this apathy, my desire for political engagement grew. As I saw my friends bury themselves in school work and city life, I wanted to find something that was meaningful to me. That’s how I found political engagement.
At first, I didn’t even realize I was “politically engaged.” I saw a flyer about a university fellowship with CJPAC, an organization I was not very familiar with, and I applied. As a campus fellow, I introduced my friends to the idea of political engagement. I met campus leaders and we planned events that would interest students. I attended political fundraisers, volunteered on campaigns and networked with students who shared my passions. After that year, I realized that my heart lay in Canadian political engagement. After all, it’s our job to make sure our voices are heard if we have a vision we want to achieve.
When I attend political events, people often ask me how I became “politically engaged.” I can’t pinpoint the moment, or the event, but I remember understanding that politicians need citizens to become more involved just as much as citizens need politicians to listen to their needs. In an ideal world, it works both ways, and political engagement is the closest I’ve been to my ideal world.
To apply for the Fellowship, please click here.