As North Vancouverites are gearing up for election results day Saturday (Oct.15) so too are their children - after a mock voting day carried out at local schools has left them feeling enthused for the big day.
On Friday afternoon, the excitement in the classrooms of École Cleveland Elementary school in North Vancouver was palpable. Students were trying their hand at voting, by filling out ballots and putting them into electoral boxes, choosing who would stand for District of North Vancouver mayor, councillor and school trustee.
Grade 5/6 teacher Jeremy Flack said it was a great opportunity that helped the children "practise making informed decisions," rather than just "guessing names," and consider what issues are important within their communities.
"We're encouraging them to have discussion with their parents and friends and talk about what concerns they may have," he said.
Flack's class traversed the mock polling system, with students designated roles as greeters, ushers, voting clerks, scrutineers and voting officers.
Little voters would enter from the playground area, show their "ID" and forms to the four studious-looking students by the entrance, and head towards the rows of seats where they would wait patiently for their turn to vote. Decision made, they would then drop their form into the "Cleveland Elementary" labelled ballot boxes.
Ten-year-old poll worker Rose enjoyed her role so much she said she would want to do it in "real-life," working as a volunteer when old enough – when she's not busy with her day job working as a doctor. As a clerk, Rose wasn't able to vote, but knew who she would be voting for if she could.
"If I could vote, I would vote for Mathew Bond," she said, "because Mathew Bond wants to make houses more affordable, which is good, because houses in Vancouver are really expensive."
Bond had been the response of all the youngsters answered, no surprise given the mayoral candidate had visited the school earlier in the week.
"He's smart and young," explained 10-year-old Stevie, when describing the reasons behind her vote. When a friend, Rory, pointed out he was "30-something" – presumably an ancient age group to pupils of a Grade 5 class, Stevie retorted, "Well, at least he's not 60."
Other children touched on how little they knew of elections, local politics and the voting system as a whole prior to the activities, and all said they were excited to be learning about the process.
Loek, an enthused voter, said he "can't wait" to participate in "real" elections when old enough.
"This whole thing has been so much fun, I'm just really, really excited," he said.
The Grade 4/5 French immersion class of teacher Kira Lee catered to the election advertising, making posters and spreading the word on the candidates. They had made power points prior to the big day, which discussed how city council ran and focused on the priorities and goals of each councillor and mayor.
The Student Vote program, run by CIVIX in collaboration with Elections Canada, had students across the country actively engaging in election discussion for the month prior to the voting days, held on Thursday and Friday. École Cleveland Elementary was just one of 736 schools registered to participate, with over 60,000 students expected to be involved.
With ballots due to be drawn early next week, teachers and pupils will be able to compare their election outcome to the real deal, following the announcement of the results of this year's municipal election on Saturday, Oct. 15.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.