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!