BC Youth Parliament in the Community

If you happened to stumble into the library garden on May 1, you may have seen two happy looking young Fernians offering care packages for local seniors on behalf of the British Columbia Youth Parliament. These two students were Sasha Kelleher and Aislinn Dressler, and the packages they offered were part of a service initiative aptly titled “Boredom Buster Care Packages for Fernie Seniors.” The project’s goal was to spread joy among local seniors during the ongoing pandemic, and with that goal in mind the two distributed 50 packages. This project was led by BC Youth Parliament members and made possible by the support of the Fernie Heritage Library and the Columbia Basin Trust.

The British Columbia Youth Parliament (or BCYP) is a non-profit, non-partisan, youth led service organization with the mandate of youth serving youth. Every year, BCYP hosts Session, a week-long opportunity for members from across BC to debate legislation that has real impacts on the projects and initiatives that the organization runs. After Session, members participate in many projects, including service projects, socials, and fundraisers. One of the main service projects are Regional Youth Parliaments, which are youth parliaments in regions across BC for youth aged 14 to 18 that work to educate about civic literacy and promote community service. BCYP’s flagship project is Project Phoenix, a youth-run summer camp for children who would not otherwise be able to attend camp due to social or financial reasons.

Sasha and Aislinn both got involved with BCYP through the City of Fernie’s Youth Councillor position. At first glance, it seems as though BCYP is just a program to teach kids how to collaboratively debate, yet it is much more than that. Learning how to debate is definitely included, however, and so is meeting new people from all around BC, making inside jokes and memories with other passionate youth from all over BC, enacting real positive change through service projects and community initiatives, and having a first-hand experience in being part of making decisions that impact real projects that occur post-Session. In BCYP, all members, (even first years who have no debate experience) get a chance to bring up topics of debate and voice their opinions on different subjects. With that in mind, if you like volunteering in your community, collaborative debate, or meeting new people, BCYP is for you.

Now that you have learned more about BCYP and what the organization does, there are many ways that you can get involved…

If you are a youth aged sixteen to twenty-one, you can apply to be a member of the 93rd BC Youth Parliament. Applications will be out sometime in the fall of 2021 and will be available on the website bcyp.org, so make sure to apply! Alternatively, if you know a young leader in your community who might be interested in this experience, encourage them to apply.

Later this summer, BCYP Members will be hosting a virtual Fun 5km Run on July 24 and 25, where participants can complete the distance in their own communities to raise money for Project Phoenix and potentially win some really cool prizes. If you are someone looking for a fun challenge that supports charity, this is the event for you! And if you are someone who would like to donate prizes, they would really appreciate your support. More information will be put out about these projects on the BCYP social media pages (@BCYParliament), so make sure to give them a follow and stay up-to-date on the latest activities.

If you are a community member, there are many ways to get involved with the BC Youth Parliament. In order to run our projects, including Project Phoenix, the Southern Interior region and BCYP have many fundraisers that need your support. Sasha and Aislinn will be participating in a bottle drive to raise money from May 28 to June 12, so if you have any bottles lying around, they would love to have them for this fundraiser!