Hope Tuff-Berg, Founder, FIRST VOTE from St.Catharines, Niagara, ON spoke to Onside about how he dreamt of empowering the youth through FIRST VOTE
How did you think of starting First Vote?
In the summer before starting my first year of political science at Brock University, my friends and I noticed that we had an election year coming up, and hardly any of our friends from high school were talking about it. I realized that hardly anyone was talking about politics at all, not about the policy changes happening in our lives, or what we could do about it. After this, I researched voter turnout by age demographic and learned that youth have historically held the lowest voter turnout of any age in Canada, at 16 percent. This is when we thought about the minimal civic education we have in our school systems and the challenges that some youth face in finding opportunities to get involved in their communities. In result, we developed a one-day conference for grade 12 students in St. Catharines that would seek to educate them about how government works, with the chance to meet each of their candidates from the provincial riding of St. Catharines. The following year, we developed another conference in preparation for the 2019 federal elections and hosted almost twice as many students at Brock University.
How are you planning to bring about change within society? –
Our organization is planning to empower youth to take part in shaping the future of our nation by voting, advocating and volunteering. We believe that the future is youth, and when we have the education, tools, and empowerment, we’re capable of having a tremendous influence on the policies that shape our day-to-day lives.
How many people are part of FIRST VOTE?
We have about 12 student leaders on our planning committee and have dozens of volunteers, community partners, and elected officials supporting us. Anyone who takes on the role of empowering youth to become a leader, get involved, become educated about politics, and get out and vote, is part of this initiative.
What are the future plans for FIRST VOTE?
Our plan is to expand our mission to youth across the nation. We would like to reach more students through in-class workshops, school talks, and virtual empowerment opportunities.
Any help that will take FIRST VOTE’s initiatives further?
Spread the message! Whether it’s starting a positive conversation about the upcoming election, encouraging a group of friends to go to the polls together, or joining the social media campaign by sharing posts to your social media handles, passing on the “get out the vote” message is supporting this initiative, and encouraging democratic activity.
Who can be a part of this initiative and how can they get in touch with you?
Anyone can become part of this initiative! We encourage everyone of all demographics to volunteer, advocate, contribute in person or virtually to support this mission of increasing youth participation in our democracy. We can be found online at www.firstvote.ca, on Facebook and Instagram.
For more information on Hope Tuff-Berg & FIRST VOTE, Niagara kindly log on to : www.firstvote.ca
This story is edited by Yugbodh(YB), for Onside Media Canada, for comments kindly email: [email protected]