Semiahmoo Secondary student Jordana Peters addresses Surrey council on the second of two overnight sessions.

Semiahmoo Secondary student Jordana Peters addresses Surrey council on the second of two overnight sessions.

First steps toward democracy

Editor:

Re: Casino project a bust, Jan. 22; Anywhere-but-Surrey mandate, Jan. 24.

Editor:

Re: Casino project a bust, Jan. 22.

Recently, I saw a poster of federal Liberal leadership contender Marc Garneau. Amongst the titles it placed on him – engineer, astronaut, member of Parliament, and Order of Canada – was the label “youth advocate.”

This label, along with the idea of youth involvement, has been on the rise lately. They are ostensibly utilized by many politicians to please a concerned public. “Youth advocate” had joined the ranks of “statesman” and “activist” to mean “politicians with a heart.”

Gary Xie awaits his turn to speakYet, although society seems passionate about youth involvement, this enthusiasm is shared little by the youth themselves. Despite constant calls, students remain stubbornly unresponsive to their society. Why is this so? Are youth too immersed in their made-up world of fantasy to care?

I don’t think so. It is less that youth do not care but more that they do not know how to care. Once they have found a way to express themselves, the results can be momentous.

Last month, I got involved with the anti-casino campaign and, together with my sister, created a Facebook group to rally fellow students to the cause. The results were incredible. In a week, hundreds began to fervently debate about the subject on the page and at school. It was like throwing a stone into a pool of still water, and the whole pool soon stirring with energy.

At the recent public hearing in Surrey City Hall, despite being the last week before final exams, eight high school students showed up to protest the casino. Six stood firmly in front of council and demonstrated their passion for a better society. Each received thunderous applause from the whole room, not necessarily because the audience agreed, but because it was democracy at its finest.

When the decision was finally made, it was a momentous victory. I was high-fived everywhere in the hallway, and we could not believe we actually made a difference. This event has witnessed the rise of youth and demonstrated they are a force no longer negligible.

More and more, politicians assume the role of “youth advocates,” yet, it is the youth themselves who must take a lead. It would be a shame to wait for them to take actions.

A potential casino is not our community’s only problem. Youth should take a more active role in other issues as well. No one can deny that we are the future, and no one can ignore our voice on how to shape it.

Gary Xie, Surrey

• • •

I would like to express how proud I am of the young high school students who felt strongly enough about their future to attend the public meetings and express their opinions regarding the casino project. If these students are the future of Surrey, we are in good hands.

Dale Michaud, Surrey

 

Hearing without listening?

Re: Anywhere-but-Surrey mandate, Jan. 24.

BC Lottery Corporation president and CEO Michael Graydon was quoted: “I don’t know what changed at the last minute. Hopefully, some day Mayor Watts will take the time to articulate it to us so that we can move on and learn from the experience.”

It is hard to believe that he cannot comprehend that during the public-hearing process it was very apparent the majority of the residents were not in favour of the project and that the public hearing changed everything.

Our mayor and council are in their positions to serve their constituents, and that has never changed.

Graydon also said opposition was “mild” compared to other proposals BCLC has championed. What a shame. After public hearings, which apparently made our marathon hearing look mild, elected officials in other jurisdictions discounted the wishes of their constituents.

Why even have a hearing if you are not going to listen?

Darlene Bowyer, Surrey