Moosomin looking for a new youth councillor

May 22, 2024, 4:59 pm
Ashley Bochek

McNaughton School Principal Sherrie Meredith, Youth Councillor Molly Martens, and Councillor Murray Gray speak to McNaughton Grade 10 students about the search for a new youth councillor for Moosomin town council.

Moosomin town council will have a new youth councillor this fall. Town Councillor Murray Gray spoke to McNaughton High School grade 10 students last week regarding the youth councillor position.

The student is chosen every two years to represent the school’s student body at Town Council meetings.

Molly Martens is graduating this June, and finishing her two-year term as Youth Councillor.

On Monday, Gray, Molly Martens, and Principal Sherrie Meredith spoke to the students about the position.

Meredith explained the process of selecting a student.

“Four years ago when this started, our first youth councillor was Victor Cardoza Santos. He was nominated, elected, and then served a two-year term. Following that, two years ago, we ran a meeting and Molly was nominated.

“A youth councillor represents the youth at town meetings. A teacher can nominate, or a peer,” Meredith says. “Once we have had some nominations we will approach those students asking if they will let their name stand, then they create a statement form, which gives a little story why you would like that position. Then we will hold an election. Then, you would find out who would be the next youth councillor for the next two years. It is a great opportunity and it looks great on a resume. It is wonderful to volunteer for your community.”

Gray says the responsibilities of a youth councillor are to learn and voice their opinion regarding the school’s future and other community issues that concern youth.

“I have been on town council for eight years,” he said. “I grew up in Moosomin and I graduated from McNaughton High School. One thing I had wished was that somebody would have asked me when I was your age about the future of the town. I think it is really important to engage our youth because when we make decisions as Town Council it may affect people 30 years out and the youth are going to be the ones that are going to benefit or be punished by it. It is very important.

“Another aspect that I think is very important for all of you to learn is the democratic process, which means the election.” Murray continued. “It is a very important democratic right for us in a free country, to vote for federal elections, provincial elections, and municipal elections. You are going to get to see that before you are 18 years old when you legally can go vote.

“I think that is very important, as well as being the communication between the school, your peers, and the town council. You are also getting to learn how that works and how the world works. It is a neat process, it has worked very well in the last four years. Until you get an opportunity to sit in on those meetings, it is a little overwhelming as to what happens, but it is neat to sit in on it and learn about it.”

Gray explains the responsibilities of Town Council and the importance of the youth councillor’s voice.

“Town Council makes decisions on our infrastructure in our community, our recreation, our economic development, our roads, our bylaws, our budget­—the money your parents pay in taxes. Town Council decides what that money is used for. That is why it is important to have a youth sit on council in order to determine what that money is spent on.

“One of the mandates of Town Council is to make sure that we have things that are beneficial for our youth so after they go away to school, they have the opportunity to come back to live and work and be in our town.”

Gray explains the goal of youth councillor in the Town of Moosomin.

“One thing I will point out is Victor is considering running in the town council election which is also next November. Victor has indicated he may run for that. So, to me that is a real win of how this process works because if he learned a lot in the two years as a junior councillor and then he wants us to put his name forward to be a councillor, that is really cool. That is really what I had in mind at the beginning of it.”

Learning experience for Molly Martens
Molly Martens says being the youth councillor was a great learning experience.

“When I started in the beginning of grade 11, I felt like I learned so much about the town, the meetings, and the process of all of it. It is honestly just a really good opportunity to learn some new things and meet some great people in our town. It also looks really good on a resume. Anything that has to do with the school I had a say in. There were some conversations on air conditioning last summer that I chimed in on, anything to do with the future of the schools.”

Martens helped with Communities in Bloom contest Moosomin participated in as youth councillor.

“There was Communities in Bloom last summer, and I was in charge of the schools. I had to do a write up about them and make sure they looked good for the contest.”

Meredith explained the different duties the youth councillors have helped with over the past four years.

“I know that things the youth councillor have been a part of is helping co-ordinate the Town-wide clean up, helping with Communities in Bloom, and I am sure Molly was a voice in establishing the Visual Arts Centre in town.”

Gray says the youth councillor has a voice and has the opportunity to be a leader in the community.

“As leaders of the community age out and move on, we need young people to be the leaders. This is an opportunity to be a leader in your community, which is very important because leaders are who make the decisions. It is an honour to serve for two years as a youth councillor.

“As youth councillor you don’t have a vote, but you have a voice, which means you can express your opinion, talk about things, join in our conversations.”

Martens adds, “I never made any votes or decisions, but they always took my opinion into consideration when they vote.”

Meredith says the youth councillor has the opportunity to voice their opinion and be heard among town councilors, “The youth councilor has the power of influence and that should not be underestimated.”

‘Cool experience’
Martens says she enjoyed being the youth councilor.

“Being youth councillor has been really cool and eye-opening. It was definitely not something I would have thought of doing if it weren’t for somebody nominating me. It was just a really cool experience that I learned a lot from.”

She says she learned different aspects of town decisions.

“I didn’t really understand what Town Council did or how any of it works until being youth councillor. I didn’t know how the public works goes on and how the rec department works. I didn’t realize how all of the little things came from that table every single time.”

Represent both schools
Molly was involved with projects involving the McNaughton High School and MacLeod Elementary School.

“I was involved with anything that involved the schools,” she said. “There was talk about the air conditioning last summer, new parking signs around the elementary school, really anything that involved the students and the school. Also, last week they talked about a new oil recycling project and they wanted to know what I thought of it because it is something that affects us in the future. Everything the Town Council thought would be good for the schools usually was. Most of the time they would ask me what I thought. They would usually ask me what my opinion was, and they definitely cared about my opinion.”

Martens says, “I think it is a big thing to include on your resume. I definitely added it to my applications and scholarships. My mom would always ask me, ‘what did you learn’ and every time I would have something to say. I always learned so much. It was a very cool experience. I would recommend the youth councillor position. They care what the youth think.”