Through the Young Canadians Club

Langley’s Manners Lady facilitating student vote

Judi Vankevich is doing her part to get children and teens engaged in politics and democracy.

With just days to go before Monday’s federal election, it’s decision day at the home of Langley’s Manners Lady.

Judi Vankevich is hosting a mock election –  open to both home-schooled and public school students in the Langley-Aldergrove and Cloverdale-Langley City electoral districts (or others who don’t care about which district) – from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at her home at 20821 43rd Ave.

Today, Tuesday, Oct. 13, from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., students are invited to cast their ballots at 21546 86a Cresc. in Walnut Grove. This event is strictly drop in – cast your ballot and go.

Parents are welcome to join their children and watch the election process at work.

Young helpers are being assigned “jobs” such as deputy returning officer, scrutineers, and poll clerk during Vankevich’s election.

During Vankevich’s event, there will be the singing of O Canada, as well as Canadian folk songs such as This Land is Your Land.

Vanekevich is making sure “election day” in her home is as authentic as possible.

Vankevich is bringing in Elections Canada ballot boxes and two sets of ballots (for Langley-Cloverdale and Langley-Aldergrove).

Eligible voters can range from kindergarten students to Grade 12s. There will be snacks and refreshments and Vankevich said she plans to “give a little speech.”

Vankevich’s local election mirrors Student Vote, a movement in which 7,500 schools across Canada are holding, mock elections the week before the election.

Votes will be counted in a Canada wide election, to see who would have won if students were the only voters. Results will be available when the regular polls close.

Vankevich, who taught a Canadian citizenship class over the past few weeks, said the process was to get young people engaged.

“The average teenager, the whole politics thing is off their radar,” Vankevich said. “They don’t know about it, they don’t care about it, and doesn’t know how it affects them.”

Vankevich also encouraged parents to bring their kids along with them when they pick their MP on voting day, Oct. 19, so they can watch the election process unfold.

Calling the election turnout “appalling,” Vankevich is urging those old enough to vote to do so this Monday – thus exercising a democratic right others don’t have in some countries.

“If you don’t go out and vote you have forfeited your right to complain,” she said.

Vankevich is the founder of the Young Canadians Club, with the mandate of training and inspiring young Canadians to make a difference in their community and nation

This is what her class, Canadian Citizenship 101, was all about: getting future voters educated about democracy and politics, so they can make informed choices when they’re old enough to vote.

The Young Canadians Club including Citizenship 101 classes was designed to help children and teens, as well as new immigrants, understand and, Vankevich said, “appreciate the freedoms and opportunities we cherish in Canada.”

The class involved students from both north and south of the Fraser River.

At the Maple Ridge class, local candidates Mike Murray (Convervaties), Peter Tam (Greens), Bob D’Eith (NDP), and Dan Ruimy (Liberals) fielded questions from the students on different occasions.

“Each candidate was impressed with how kind, welcoming and hospitable the kids were, and their questions were good,” Vankevich related.

Vankevich said it “isn’t a natural process” for children and youth to jump into politics, and it’s a process of education and enlightenment.

She noted that kids as young as 14 can join a political party and start making a difference by choosing who their candidate may be.

“The process is, the more engaged you are, the more you read about, the more informed you are,” Vankevich said. “Ideas have consequences and ideas matter.”

So why is the Manners Lady teaching about Canadian politics? Vankevich, who received her bachelors degree in Political Science and Business from Trinity Western University and did her graduate school internship in the Prime Minister’s office in Ottawa, said politics has always been a passion of hers, and that Canada’s governing system is based on the principals of civility.

This weekend, Vankevich is joining 32 members of her Young Canadians Club at the Me Day at Rogers Arena.

Meanwhile, north of the Fraser…

Call it a dress rehearsal for the kids who will one day help shape the vision of Canada.

A mock election for children and youth too young to vote was held Tuesday at Maple Ridge Community Church.

Ridge Meadows Home Learners, with help from Heritage Christian Online School, hosted a six-week co-op focusing on the Canadian Government and the Election Process.

The lessons culminated with the mock election.

The younger voters in Grades 3 to 6 cast their ballots for candidates from parties they created, while senior students (Grades 4 to11) voted on real candidates in the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge riding.

Leading up to their “election,” the students visited with local candidates on different occasions, including Mike Murray (Conservative), Peter Tam (Green), Bob D’Eith (NDP), and Dan Ruimy (Liberals), who fielded questions from the students on different issues and party platforms.

The independent candidate, Steve Ranta, was invited but unable to attend.

“Each candidate was impressed with how kind, welcoming and hospitable the kids were, and their questions were good,” said Vankevich, who facilitated the Young Canadians Club teaching Citizenship 101 classes, which were designed to help Canadian children and teens, as well as new immigrants, understand and, Vankevich said, “appreciate the freedoms and opportunities we cherish in Canada.”

Just before the kids voted, Ridge Meadows Home Learners co-founder Leah Pillet noted, in conversations she have had with other adults, found is interesting to see how many don’t understand how the election  process works and how a Prime Minister is elected.

“Educating our youth from an early age is an important part of creating a long lasting interest in politics, and will encourage youth to vote when they are 18 and beyond,” Pillet said. “Take your kids to the polls on Oct 19th, talk about the signs you are seeing, and dive into the issues important to Canada. You will be amazed how even young kids will thoughtfully participate in discussions around politics.”

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