• Myrna Driedger

Great opportunities through YPM

Article published in The Metro

Along with Christmas Carols and Santa Claus, another sign that it’s Christmas in Manitoba is the Winter Session of the Youth Parliament of Manitoba. It is one of the longest-running model parliament organizations in the world, having held sessions continuously since 1922.

This year marks the 96th annual Winter Session where 100 youth meet at the Chamber in the Legislative Building to debate and voice their opinion on issues that are important to them. Youth Parliament of Manitoba (YPM) is a non-partisan, non-denominational, non-profit organization that educates youth in effective public speaking and the parliamentary process. It is open to all youth in Manitoba who will be between 16 and 20 years old as of December 31st. Session takes place each year from 26 – December 31 at the Manitoba Legislature.

Participants sit in the chamber to debate legislation, introduce new bills, and get to know more about governance and the Canadian democratic parliamentary tradition. Each year, the Youth Parliament of Manitoba debates eight bills: six written by members of Upper Cabinet, and two written during Session in collaboration with backbenchers.

Throughout their history, they have seen some of the most influential people in the province — and the country — participate in Youth Parliament. Community leaders like Lloyd Axworthy, Howard Pawley, Gary Filmon, Sharon Carstairs, and Bill Norrie were all members of YPM.

To participate, you must register at http://www.ypmanitoba.ca/ The price for 2017 is $120, but there are some bursaries available. The Page Program is also an exciting opportunity for those who are not yet 16, but would still like to take part in Winter Session.

Attending Winter Session is only the first step. After attending your first Winter Session, you can apply for Cabinet, the volunteer organizing committee. Through their efforts in planning and organizing session, members of Cabinet learn important skills that can be translated into many other areas.

Members of YPM also can participate in a joint session of all four provinces in Western Canada. The Western Canada Youth Parliament includes members from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

YPM also hosts a fundraising dinner each year called Speaker's Night. Speaker’s Night is Youth Parliament of Manitoba’s premiere fundraising gala and community event of the year. YPM members, alumni, politicians, community leaders, family and friends gather to commemorate the history and stories of YPM as well as celebrate the achievements of the alumni.

In addition to learning the many skills mentioned above, Winter Session is a lot of fun! After a day debating legislation and meeting politicians, the members have a chance to unwind and hang out. Countless long-lasting friendships will be formed hanging out and getting to know the other members after a day of debating.

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