Ravi Parmar

Teen candidate full of youthful enthusiasm

Belmont champion looking to make change in district

Ravi Parmar is hoping his upcoming 20th birthday brings a very special present.

The former Belmont student, perhaps best known as the student activist who helped spearhead a grassroots campaign petitioning to replace the aging facility, is knocking on doors, talking to voters and going to all-candidates meetings leading up to his big day, Nov. 15.

That’s also the day he hopes to be elected to a school trustee position for SD62.

Parmar, in his third year studying political science at the University of Victoria, is trying to connect with voters of all ages, including those who don’t have children going to school.

“I’m reaching out to people I graduated with that are now 18 and older that are voting age, (some) that are voting for the first time,” he said.

“I’m hoping to get them excited about voting for a school trustee, because we set the visions at the schools. We want to create a school system that is positive five years down the line, 10 years down the line, when my generation starts to have children.”

The young Langford resident understands some people might get hung up on his political inexperience, yet he is confident he can get the job done in the SD62 Belmont zone, serving Langford, Metchosin, Colwood and the Highlands.

“The skills I learned in UVic are going to help me be a good school trustee if I get elected,” Parmar said. “I think I am bringing something that is different. A lot have been doing it for a very long time, (but) I think I bring some passion and drive.”

Belmont teacher Paul Waterlander, who taught the candidate high school social studies, said Parmar’s enthusiasm, work ethic and commitment set him apart from fellow students back then.

The longtime educator believes the 19-year-old will continue to do so.

“I know (their family) came from not a lot, (yet) he has taken the bull by the horns and really wants to succeed. He thinks politics is a noble calling,” Waterlander said. “He was political even when he was in class, which is rare, because most teenagers don’t care too much about politics. I know he is guided by doing good for as many people as possible. He had to give back and wants to help.”

Parmar was the lead organizer for Let’s Build a New Belmont in 2011, which saw a student walkout staged and more than 3,000 signatures collected, as he and others voiced their opinions about the need for a new high school. Parmar eventually secured a one-on-one meeting with then-minister of education George Abbott and eight months later, the government announced the funding of a new Belmont secondary, one Parmar won’t get the opportunity to attend.

“I saw a leader there … He did not need any adult guidance, he took everything right off and didn’t need help,” Waterlander said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if (one day) we are calling him prime minister Parmar.”

Weeks away from election day, the school trustee hopeful said his focus is on engagement with constituents. He relishes the opportunity to serve in that role and prove his age isn’t the factor some may make it out to be.

“Those who know me know I am most passionate and most driven when I have a lot of things going on,” Parmar said.

“Most are too busy partying and enjoying the things of being a teen and young adults, but I enjoy going to board meetings rather than partying with my friends.”

Election day for the Sooke School District is Nov. 15 and is held in conjunction with municipal council elections.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com