From left: Dexter Leung

From left: Dexter Leung

Students talk climate change in Metchosin

Recommendations will be presented to federal government

More than 100 young people from 15 to 18 years of age will have the opportunity to weigh in on how to deal with climate change at a town hall meeting at Pearson College.

The forum, which takes place this Saturday (July 30) from 2 to 4:30 p.m., includes delegates from five First Nations and 26 countries, including two Syrians recently settled in Canada.

The event is part of Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (PSYL), a three-week transformative leadership program that strives to stretch the boundaries of what leadership means for up to 200 students from 100 countries. The program, launched in 1996, aims to give youth the opportunity to build an international community committed to creating positive change around the world.

PSYL youth will be working with local youth leaders for the first time ever, including the Victoria Youth Council. Recommendations from the event will be part of a series of youth-generated opinions to be considered by the federal government for Canada’s climate action plan.

Jon McPhedran Waitzer and Rebekah Parker are the PSYL program co-ordinators who initiated the project, which includes three students from Pearson College.

“The animators have been working hard on planing this event for a couple of weeks,” McPhedran Waitzer noted.

Jennah Motani, an animator from Calgary, also took part in the PSYL program last year. “I’m passionate about climate change and wanted to be part of engaging youth from around the world in having a bigger voice,” she explained.

Hong Kong resident Dexter Leung said he was motivated to participate because the results of the initiative will be passed on directly to the federal government. “What’s special about engaging youth is that they’re not yet encumbered by bureaucracy,” he noted.

Hannah Bruinsma, who attends Pearson College’s sister school in the Netherlands, said her involvement in the PSYL program has provided her with the skills and confidence needed to organize such a big event. “And one that goes directly to influencing the Canadian government,” she added.

The town hall on climate change is an opportunity for young people to be heard at a federal level on an issue that will likely define many aspects of their lives, said PSYL program director Michelle Clarke.

This is an unique chance for them to apply the skills they develop through the program and share their ideas directly with decision-makers who have committed to listen, she said.

Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison will be one of several local politicians who will attend.