by Calli Stromner
With a quiet disposition, unassuming persona and pleasant manners, 16-year old Tristan Turner is the teenage son every mother hopes for. But behind the shy facade is a young man about to set the world on fire…and in fact he’s already lit the match.
In his final year at Morinville Community High School, Turner has been preparing for Diploma exams and getting ready to graduate – quite an accomplishment for a young man a year younger than his peers. Like any other 16-year old, he enjoys playing online video games and hanging out with friends, but what is unique about Turner is his passion for politics and citizen engagement.
“I had a certain natural interest (in politics) that developed from my dad’s involvement that affected me through osmosis,” said Turner. “Also, I realized at a young age that there was a lot of injustice in the world, and I was always shocked at how indifferent or cynical people felt towards it, something that encouraged me to get more involved.” That realization lead Turner to ask for an odd present for his 14th birthday: a membership card for the New Democratic Party. For the past two years, Turner has been actively involved with the political party in an organizational capacity and also writes and prepares policy that gets debated at the provincial conventions.
Turner has also been heavily involved with the formation of the Morinville Interact Club, an autonomous offshoot of the Morinville Rotary Club aimed at bringing together local youth in the spirit of volunteerism and community participation. Turner was elected president of the Interact Club in December. The club will receive its charter, bell and gavel from the Rotary Club of Morinville on Jan. 29 and soon thereafter will head off on their first mission project. “We will be travelling to Mexico soon to work with a community service group that put together a facility for people who lived in a dump and didn’t have access to basic services and needs,” said Turner, adding that about 20 local youth are involved with Interact at this early stage.
While Turner didn’t set out to achieve recognition or notoriety with his volunteer work, others have taken notice. He has been named one of the Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC), after being nominated by one of his mentors, Bashir Mohammed. “I’m proud of my accomplishments, and I think I’ve done quite a bit for someone my age,” said Turner. “That being said, I think there are a lot of people who deserve it more than me.”
The ACGC is a coalition of voluntary sector organizations located in Alberta working to achieve sustainable human development both locally and globally. Nominees in the 2014 Top 30 Under 30 program will be featured in a magazine which will be distributed provincially during International Development Week Feb. 2-8.
For Turner, the work doesn’t end with a nomination. In fact, the nomination may prove to be a catalyst for greater accomplishments. “I hope to one day be involved either as a journalist or an elected member of parliament in Ottawa,” he said, adding that the ACGC award highlights many future leaders.