Seven Grade 10, 11 and 12 students from both Columneetza and Williams Lake secondary were officially sworn in as the first junior council of Williams Lake at a City council meeting earlier this month.
The students, originally recommended by staff from both schools, swore their oaths of office in front of city council members and the public.
Brittany Rook, Abbi Taylor, Katie Lawson, Elsa Navratil, Talia Baptiste, Patrick Newsome and Ana Lomavatu repeated the oath after Mayor Kerry Cook.
The program was initiated after councillors Natalie Hebert and Geoff Bourdon attended a UBCM meeting. There, they learned about a similar program in Clearwater, and thought the idea was a good one.
The students will organize and hold meetings twice a month, and will ensure there is always at least one junior council member at City council meetings.
“The purpose of the junior council is to encourage youth involvement in City politics and gain a youth viewpoint in the activities happening in our city,” said Coun. Hebert, who spearheaded the program.
“This is the generation that will be taking over.”
“Our job is to get the input of youth in the community,” said Ana Lomavatu, Grade 10 student at Columneetza. “By having youth on council, the City can gain input and get students to learn more about the government and involve themselves before they start voting.”
Since being sworn in, the junior council has held its first official meeting and is preparing a presentation to council for May 3.
Columneetza Grade 11 student Patrick Newsome is excited about being a part of the council.
“Everyone seems really into giving and comparing ideas,” he said.
“There’s a lot of changes that I could make around town. If I see something that’s not quite right I can try and change it and make life better for other teenagers.”
“This is a great thing,” Hebert adds. “We’re the second city in B.C. to do this and involving the Junior Council will provide the perspective of a younger person in Williams Lake.”