An update from the 91st Winter Session

This 91st Session of YPM is now well under way. Debate has been lively as ever, with seldom a dull moment during deliberations on the six acts presented thus far. As we reach the halfway point of Winter Session, we now pause our debate as we do every year, to honour our distinguished alumni and former MLAs at YPMs annual Bear Pit and reception.

The Bear Pit is an opportunity for current members of the session to ask former MLAs – the ‘bears’ – questions on any topic that interests them. This year’s Bears are Ms. Diane McGifford, Mr. Rey Pagtakhan, and Mr. Harold Taylor.  In addition it is an opportunity to recognize truly remarkable members who have worked tirelessly for the organization. This year, Alyssa Morrison and Darcy Vermuelen will be appointed to YPMs Senate in recognition for their work on behalf of the organization. We congratulate them on this achievement, and know that our “Momma Bear” and 90th Speaker will be wonderful additions to the Senate.

Alumni and friends are invited to join us. Proceedings begin at 6:30pm with a reception to be held directly following the Bear Pit in the rotunda. We at the 91st Session are very excited to see and meet all of you.

A Speaker’s Night true to its name!

This year’s Speaker’s Night, which took place on June 7th, 2012 was one to remember.  True to its name, five “Speakers” were in attendance for YPM’s 5th Annual Speaker’s Night: Former House of Commons Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie, Former House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken, Speaker of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly Daryl Reid, YPM Deputy Speaker Brent Hardy and YPM Speaker Darren Haber.

The night featured a keynote address by former Canadian MP and Manitoba MLA Bill Blaikie, also a YPM alumnus and our current Honourary President. YPM also had the tremendous honour of hearing from Former House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken, the longest-serving speaker in Canadian House of Commons history. We were also honoured to have numerous Manitoba MLAs in attendance to support the organization and its mission.

The Youth Parliament of Manitoba Executive would like to thank the alumni, members, parents, MLAs, dignitaries, friends and supporters who came out and made Speaker’s Night a success. We would also like to thank YPM alumni Michael Urban (79th to 85th), Dana Gregoire (79th to 86th), Sachin Kumar (81st to 83rd) José Castillo Pilcol (84th), Jennifer Pawluk (82nd to 89th) and others who donated to the evening despite not being able to attend.

A full collection of photos from the event can be found on our Speaker’s Night page, and on our Facebook page.

How do you Celebrate Nine Decades?… together!

As part of the planning for this year’s milestone session, the YPM Executive and Cabinet would like to host a commemorative event on December 28th as part of the annual Bear Pit. However, as we haven’t exactly been the only ones running the show for the last 90 years, we feel it’s just not our event to plan. So, we would love your input in the process!

We have discussed a number of ideas, but are now looking for a way to really make this evening special. Do you have any ideas? Maybe even want to help out with planning the event? Drop me a line at speaker@ypmanitoba.ca and let’s talk about it!!! Our plan is to blend a commemorative event with the annual Bear Pit by extending the reception afterwards, and transforming the rotunda into a “Walk through YPM’s Past”. The organization has such wonderful and extensive archival material (at the Manitoba Archives), it’s such a shame it’s hasn’t been viewed more.

So there you have it – a sneak peek at what awaits you at this year’s session of Youth Parliament of Manitoba. Take this chance to really reconnect with the organization, and to mark a very important time in the history of our historic institution. We love hearing from alumni and getting your feedback, so send it my way! (Seriously, love your feedback!)

All the best,

Darcy Vermeulen
Speaker (Past-Chairperson)
90th Youth Parliament of Manitoba

Speaker’s Night – A Grand New Tradition

With the 4th Annual Speaker’s Night Fundraising Dinner now wrapped up, we turn back to reflect on another wonderful event. Bringing alumni, current members and the Manitoba political and business community together, Speaker’s Night has provided YPM with the funds it needs to operate on a yearly basis, as well as take on exciting new opportunties like developing the organizations Spring Session in Brandon, MB as well as successfully hosting the Western Canada Youth Parliament.

We’d like to thank all those who came out to attend the event! Darren Praznik (55th to 62nd) delivered an insighful keynote address, touching on the disengagement currently plaguing this country. It was of course not all serious business, as friends across sessional years connected and mingled in the beautiful windowed room of the Radisson Hotel downtown. With the organization’s Honourary President Reg Alcock emceeing the event, it didn’t take long for laughter to erupt across the room. If you weren’t able to attend, you truly missed a great event. Please check out our photo gallery to see some highlights from the night.

As Speaker this year and soon to be alumni, I have to confess how wondeful it is to see such loyal and supportive alumni. While we all may go our separate ways once leaving the organization, this is where we first were inspired to stand up to speak. This is where our shaky hands slowly steadied as we grew more confident in telling others just exactly how we thought. YPM embarks on its 90th Winter Session this December. This longevity would not be possible without continued support and financial contributions of great individuals like our alumni.

A look back on the 89th Parliament

In less than a week, the directors of the 89th Youth Parliament of Manitoba will complete their one-year term, thereby making way for the board of the 90th Parliament. For me, the outgoing Speaker, this means a bittersweet goodbye as I welcome a new generation of youth parliamentarians after an incredible seven years. Where the time has gone, I have no idea.

Since my first day as a backbencher at the 82nd Winter Session, I have witnessed so many organizational changes. When I hear the stories of our alumni, who have long since moved on from their days as youth parliamentarians, I cannot help but marvel at the ongoing evolutions of this Manitoban institution over the last nine decades. This past year was no exception.

Much of our administrative focus in the early stages of the 89th Parliament revolved around our role as hosts of the 14th biennial Western Canada Youth Parliament. Manitoba hosts this event once every eight years, and 2010 was our turn. Over the May long weekend, about 60 young people from across Western Canada met to debate in the Manitoba Legislature, share stories and ideas on our mutual youth parliament experiences, and of course make some new friends. In all, we could not have asked for a more successful session as all in attendance had a memorable and enjoyable time.

Also in May, we hosted our 3rd Annual Speaker’s Night at the Radisson Hotel Winnipeg Downtown. Dr. Lloyd Axworthy delivered the keynote address as our Alumni Achievement Award honouree for 2009.

Next came time to appoint our Cabinet and begin meetings leading up to Winter Session. To name but a few of our initiatives and taskings last fall, we drafted six innovative and timely bills, established the Alumni Society, attended and hosted numerous community events, and established this blog at long last. The 89th Winter Session in itself was truly a remarkable event.

I would like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you who supported us through these efforts.  Youth Parliament of Manitoba has a truly vibrant community of supporters. Please continue to follow YPM online through the website, Twitter, Facebook, or “The Youth Parliamentarian” as our members bring you all our latest news.

A legacy almost 90 years in the making

American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead once said,

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

No other quote better summarizes the efforts of Youth Parliament of Manitoba. Since 1922, YPM has been dedicated to encouraging thoughtful, and at times radical, debate among young Manitobans. Our youth parliamentarians go on to become political leaders, laywers, doctors, journalists, teachers and more. Our mock debates go on to become Manitoban and Canadian policies and laws. Youth parliamentarians were calling for graduated drivers’ licensing, a gun registry, the abolition of capital punishment and the legalization of abortion as well as same-sex marriage long before these issues officially came to pass.

Within Youth Parliament of Manitoba, we believe in change. We believe in the power of some of our province’s youngest citizens to inspire that change. What we believe in, is each other.

Tell anyone who is unfamiliar with the workings of YPM that an 89-year-old Manitoban institution is run exclusively by a group of 25 young adults, and they’ll likely remark with some air of disbelief. And yet here we are; thanks to an ever-changing group of extremely dedicated volunteers, as well as the loyalty of hundreds of alumni, sponors, political leaders, educators and other friends.

YPM has continued to foster a knowledge of and respect for the Canadian democratic parliamentary process in its members over the course nine decades; through wars, recessions, technological innovations, climate change and more. In almost 90 years, our political, cultural and physical landscape has changed greatly – as has the Youth Parliament of Manitoba. At one time, women were not considered full members of the Older Boys’ Parliament. At one time, the organization was part of the TUXIS movement. At one time, there were no formal ties between the four Western Canadian youth parliaments.

But some things have remained the same; namely our presence in the Manitoba Legislative Building every December 26 to 30 since 1922. With that presence, generations of Manitobans have built upon a legacy of change through education and fellowship.

In a few days, YPM will host its 89th Winter Session.

What sort of legacy our members will leave then?

Join us at the Manitoba Legislative Building Dec. 26-30 to see for yourself!

Welcome to The Youth Parliamentarian

We decided to create The Youth Parliamentarian to bring the extended Youth Parliament of Manitoba (YPM) community together in a forum that encourages ongoing engagement and interaction. By using social media, we can extend our network across cyberspace; allowing for more regular updates about the goings-on of YPM. Many of our former members now live across Canada and beyond. It is our hope that we can stay in touch year-round outside of sessions or Speaker’s Night.

Whether you are an alum, a supporter or a first-year backbencher, YPM has impacted each of our lives in some way. This blog is a celebration of that impact. Do you want to know what’s happening during our debates? Maybe you wonder who is being honoured with our various recognitions? Perhaps you merely wish to stay informed when events are happening or someone in our community does something remarkable?

Our posts will include a mix of event and community features; from the latest announcements and stories to historical perspectives. Do you have something you’d like to share or see? Contact us through our website at www.ypmanitoba.ca/contact/ and we’ll chase that lede. Thank you for your continued interest in Youth Parliament of Manitoba.