February will be a momentous month for two young ladies of the Ret family. Sierra and Michaela Ret have been accepted to a week-long political education program known as the Forum for Young Canadians. Next month, they will join 118 other teenage Canadians as they take a behind-the-scenes peek at the world of federal politics on Parliament Hill. During their stay they will visit the House of Commons and the Senate as they are introduced to the operations of the institution. They will sit in on a Question Period to hear Parliament members speak their minds, attend receptions with MP’s, and perhaps even the PM himself. They will breakfast with Senators and visit Rideau Hall, home to the Governor General.
When they’re not hob-knobbing with the political decision makers, they will participate in a variety of simulations throughout the week to introduce them experience the decision-making process directly. They may conduct a full election in a simulated world parliament where participants start from the ground up, creating a party, selecting a candidate, preparing campaign positions and speeches. They may don the role of a Cabinet minister, articulating their departmental position before casting their votes on the issue or learn how Canadian firms trade and grow on the international stage.
Sierra is completing her last year of secondary school and venturing into on-line post-secondary studies, while Michaela is working on Grade 10 school curriculum. Both girls are home schooled, so the opportunity to go to Ottawa is quite an adventure. While they learn from home, their education is not narrowly focussed. They regularly discuss world events as a family at the kitchen table, and the girls demonstrate a keen sense of justice. They currently have no particular political career aspirations, but the experience will offer them a better understanding of the political process, which may change that view.
The program is available to all Canadians age 15 to 19, with a registration cost of $895 for the week, which covers all travel costs, hotel accommodation, all meals and instruction materials. The girls are working to raise their registration at a part-time job and establishing a go-fund-me page, found at www.gofundme.com/send-us-to-parliament.
For more information or to apply for one of the three sessions each year, visit http://forum.ca KG