Youth leadership evolves leaps and bounds in the City of Victoria.
In the spring of 2004, then-youth coordinator Chelsea Peddle had an idea. She saw a gap between city politics and young peoples’ needs in the City of Victoria, and wanted to close it. She proposed the idea of a Youth Council, where youth could comment and provide feedback to the city on the civic issues that mattered to them. The City responded to her proposal by granting support in principle to begin developing a coalition of youth and stakeholders. Through this process, The City of Victoria Youth Council (CVYC), a youth-driven, grassroots program that offered opportunities for civic engagement to youth who live, work, hang out or go to school in the City of Victoria, was born.
The initiative was met with resounding support across the community, and the CVYC quickly grew to encompass over 30 youth, as well as community centres, youth-serving organizations, businesses, libraries, and schools. The City responded to this success by awarding the CVYC its first special projects grant in the summer of 2005. The Blanshard Community Centre (now Quadra Village Community Centre) became the CVYC’s first financial and administrative host and used the grant funds to host youth meetings and establish the organizational structure, values and mandate of the CVYC. In 2010, as part of its portfolio of youth-focused programming, BC Healthy Communities got the opportunity to bolster this incredible work by serving as the CVYC host, and further supporting equitable youth engagement work in the City of Victoria.
This past year, things have come full circle as BCHC has now been able to pass the Youth Council torch back to the Quadra Village Community Centre (QVCC), where it forms an ideal complement to its other locally-focused programming. As QVCC will continue to be a great guide for the CVYC youth members, so will BCHC continue to act as an advocate for youth through our programs and initiatives across BC.
Over the past 14 years, the CVYC has provided Victoria youth with a unique opportunity to have their voices heard by council, to be immersed in the processes of civic engagement, and to be actively involved in the evolution of the organization itself. The list of CVYC initiatives and events to date is endless, with youth addressing topics from youth employability to social and environmental justice, from affordable housing to inclusion. Victoria’s youth have shown themselves to be true leaders, and in its presentations to City staff and council, the Youth Council has proved itself the source of innovative solutions to the issues youth face in Victoria. BC Healthy Communities cannot wait to see what this group will take on next.
Author credit: Claudia de Haan-Hewett