Young voters of tomorrow have been busy casting ballots in B.C.'s official Student Vote Day, ahead of this Saturday's provincial election.
The CIVIX initiative gives students a lesson in provincial politics, a chance to debate the future of the province, and (the fun part) the opportunity to cast ballots for the local candidates running in their school’s electoral district. After the official election, students get to see how their voting results compare to the real deal.
During the past couple of days, Oct. 21 and 22, tens of thousands of students have had the opportunity to vote – including hundreds of students in North Vancouver.
Up to 240 students in grades 4 to 7 cast their ballot at Ecole Ross Road Elementary.
Maria McAllister, teacher-librarian, said the school had a long history of participating in both B.C. and Canada Vote Day, and students were "excited" to take part.
"I believe today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders," McAllister told North Shore News, on the importance of teaching students about provincial politics.
"The Student Vote pairs well with our curricular goals around citizenship, learning about rights and responsibilities, democracy and government.
"By taking an interest and learning about provincial politics, I hope students will take an active interest in local issues and become community leaders."
Future voters at Blueridge Elementary were also eager to cast their ballot, said vice-principal Bridget O'Brien-Kopacek.
O'Brien-Kopacek said this was the school’s second year taking part in the initiative, thanks to the efforts of teacher Chris Mahon, who organized the program for more than 100 students.
"Some of our students are five years away from being able to vote themselves, and it is so important that they learn the impact of exercising their right to vote," she said.
She said the Student Vote allowed children to explore current issues, learn to critically examine matters, and respectfully debate with their peers.
"When the time comes to vote, the students have already deliberated, inquired, and conversed over the key issues, topics and concerns,” O'Brien-Kopacek explained.
"There is a real sense of pride after they cast their ballot and receive their future voter sticker."
The results of the student vote are confidential until after the close of official polls.
More than 170,000 students took part in the 2017 Student Vote in B.C., with votes cast from 1,114 schools, representing all 87 electoral districts in the province.
Kids elected the BC NDP, who won a majority government with 60 seats, the BC Greens, which formed the official opposition with 14 seats, and the BC Liberals, which won 12 seats. Plus, one independent candidate.
Let’s see what they have to say this year.
Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.