Possible Canadas: What do young people want Canada to be?

The past few weeks have been laden with stalemate televised debates and numerous candidates getting kicked off of campaigns for social media faux pas. In what little debate there has been about larger issues affecting Canada’s future, young people have been routinely left out of the conversation. The youth voter turnout rate is notoriously low and little has been done by any of the political parties to reverse the dire numbers from the 2011 election. “By being disengaged, they have now become conveniently ignorable,” reads a scorning Globe and Mail editorial.

But Canadians aged 15 to 29 make up one fifth of the Canadian population. That’s more people than Toronto and Montreal combined. With the federal election around the corner, we see an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about the future of Canada.

Enter Possible Canadas, a journalism project we produced in collaboration with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. We recruited 10 exceptional student journalists from across western Canada and asked them, “What conversations can you spark throughout your university campuses and beyond by asking your peers one question: what do we want Canada to be?”

We’re very excited to announce the 10 student journalists that are working with us to change the narrative around youth engagement with politics. The fellows will complete 10 days of intensive reporting on election issues that matter to their campus community.

We’ll publish the resulting impact-oriented pieces online and in syndication with professional media outlets.

Stay tuned! Possible Canadas will be live on Oct. 22.

Meet the fellows:

arno-headshot-e1445030534566“Good journalism is centred on an earnest search for the truth presented to the public and should come from a diverse range of voices, students included.”  Arno Rosenfeld

Fourth-year political science student, University of British Columbia, journalist at the Ubyssey

Arno’s question: What will Canada look like in 20 years?


michael-scoular-e1445030506864“Student papers, funded by students rather than a shifting subscriber base, have numerous opportunities: to directly ask students what they want; to find original angles through engaging with their community instead of applying national media narratives; to set up events that guide and open up conversations about politics, creating a more informed student population.” — Michael Scoular

Fourth-year English student, University of the Fraser Valley, journalist at the The Cascade

Michael’s question: Are we teaching students enough about the political system?


chris-headshot-e1445030606474I’ve always viewed the campus experience as a microcosm of the broader world: get the people in power to change their minds, and necessary policy changes will follow.” — Christopher Adams

Fourth-year political science student, University of Calgary, journalist at The Gauntlet

Christopher’s question: How to reconcile different perspectives in the climate change debate?


michaela-slinger-photo-e1445030654252“I am passionate about the role that journalism can play in challenging authority, exposing ineffective bureaucracy and giving a voice to underrepresented opinions.” — Michaela Slinger

Third-year psychology, education and journalism student, Quest University

Michaela’s question: How can we engage more young people to vote?


chandler-e1445030843845“If we can get post-secondary students to even begin reading political coverage, we need to make it quick. Straight to the point, basic, blunt stories about what the problems are and what the leaders are planning on doing about it.” — Chandler Walter

Journalism student, Langara College, journalist at The Other Press

Chandler’s question: How much does the burden of financial stress limit post-secondary students, and what could a Canada look like in which that burden is nonexistent?


josie-lukey-e1445031052133“Young people want to be educated about policy in Canada but are overwhelmed with conflicting information. Student journalists have an opportunity to reach out to these young people and make politics simpler, even fun to indulge in, which results in constructive conversations about the future of Canada.” — Josie Lukey

Third-year journalism and political science student, Mount Royal University, journalist at J-Source

Josie’s question: What would a more humanized political system look like?


kate-headshot-e1445031155100“In a world where most news sources cater to students’ parents’ generation and refer to millennials in the third person, student journalism provides a forum for young people to be heard and an opportunity to make students understand the realities of their peers.” — Kate Black

Fifth-year women’s and gender studies and political science student, University of Alberta, journalist at The Gateway

Kate’s question: What will universities have to do to advance reconciliation between indigenous and settler Canadians?


alexanderkim-headshot-e1445031272500“Politicians need to be reminded that they’re accountable to Canada’s students too.” — Alexander Kim

Journalism masters student, University of British Columbia, host and producer of Theoretically Speaking on CJSW

Alexander’s question: What can students do to enlist radical changes in media for Canada’s future?


kevin-rey“This generation is looking for ways to make informed decisions, but a lot of information is inaccessible to them because of the lack of context and the sensational tone that it takes.” — Kevin Rey

Second-year molecular biology and biochemistry masters student, Simon Fraser University, journalist at The Peak

Kevin’s question: What do statistics tell us about the current state of Canada? [end]

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