Orangeville teen among 100 students to visit Parliament Hill

November 17, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Sixteen-year-old Orangeville resident Cameron Shimes had an opportunity to take a peek behind the proverbial curtain last week, taking in a trip to Parliament Hill.

The local youngster was one of 100 youth selected by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and the Boys and Girls Club of Canada to participate in the two-day trip. While in Ottawa he had the opportunity to shadow Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Jamie Schmale, attending multiple meetings, as well as sitting in on Question Period.

“When I first heard about this opportunity I knew right away that it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to see what it’s like for a politician in Ottawa,” Cameron told the Citizen. “This was my first time in Ottawa, I got to do a lot of cool things. It was a great experience.”

The aim of the initiative, titled YOUth in Office, is to inspire youth to become more engaged citizens by exposing them to politics and the democratic process in Canada, says Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. It was easy to see the impact the trip had on Cameron.

Nancy Stallmach, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dufferin County, praised both the federal government and the two organizations for providing such an “incredible” learning experience to youth across the country.

“I think it’s both wonderful and necessary for youth to have a chance to see how democracy works here in Canada. This program could be a platform to so much more, many of these youth will go away with a real sense for how politics works in this country,” Ms. Stallmach said. “We’re delighted that Cameron had the opportunity to participate in this. I think it’s clear to see how much he enjoyed this experience.”

Dufferin-Caledon MP David Tilson met up with Cameron while he was in Ottawa on Nov. 7. In a release to the media, Mr. Tilson voiced his support for what he believes is a “tremendous” program.

“As a long-time supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, I was pleased that Cameron had the opportunity to participate in this exciting program,” Mr. Tilson said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for young people to learn more about what their elected representatives do in Ottawa. It’s a great education that I know will service them well.”

Cameron is the first student from Dufferin-Caledon to take part in this program. While he chuckled when recounting what he witnessed during Question Period – lots of back and forth bickering and mudslinging apparently – there is something else from the experience that has stuck with Cameron.

“The most important thing I’m going to take away from this is that we have to be patient with our government. Things don’t happen fast in Canadian politics. It’s a very long process for laws to get passed, things don’t just happen overnight. Now I have a better understanding of how all of that works,” Cameron said. “So when our MPs are telling us that they’re working hard and trying to get things done, we should trust them and wait because it does take a while for things to happen.”

In closing, the Westside Secondary School student offered encouragement to any youth that may have an opportunity to visit parliament, saying this was a once in a lifetime experience for him.

“This whole thing was honestly so amazing. It was the perfect chance to see what things are like in Ottawa on Parliament Hill. I’d definitely go back again if I ever had the chance,” Cameron concluded.

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