Morinville’s Youth Leadership Program enough to let youth council die: Fitzgerald

by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent

Council has received a thorough presentation from Morinville’s Youth Leadership and Outreach Worker Christine Ryvers, along with Community Program Coordinator Melonie Dziwenka on Morinville’s new Youth Leadership Program. Council received the report during their once monthly Committee of the Whole meeting Sept. 20, with all of Council present save Gordon Putnam. The program has received attention as seemingly analogous to the currently in limbo Youth Council Bylaw proposed by Deputy Mayor Brennan FitzGerald.

FitzGerald himself seems to support that assessment, commenting during the meeting that he’s happy to “let [the motion] die” and accept the new program as a solution to youth political engagement in town.

FitzGerald and Council generally were not aware of the program, completely created in-house inside community services. This new program is offered as an administrative program and was not or will not be directly approved by Council, though it seemed to have the unanimous support of all members present at the meeting.

The program, as presented by Ryvers, is one that gives young people in Grades 9 to 12 the opportunity to get involved in local, national and international political and social justice issues they care about, giving them a platform and funding to organize and make their voices heard.

Ryvers and Dziwenka both noted that the intent, direction, and scope of the program are designed to be flexible with the goals and aspirations of the group they’re providing the program for.

“I think any opportunity that gives young people a voice is not a bungle,” FitzGerald said, referencing Jeniffer Lavallee’s recent Morinville News article that referred to the confusion between a Council-driven Bylaw and the Youth Council program listed in the community guide as a bungle.

Councillor Stephen Dafoe was completely on board with the new program, having previously opposed Fitzgerald’s idea to create a Youth Council by way of bylaw. Dafoe said he felt that the program may be better served if participants had the opportunity to regularly meet with council in meetings at Council Chambers “as peers.” This idea was in addition to the current concept for the program, which just says that Council should have a liaison who attends the programs meetings to offer support as a resource. This got some approval from FitzGerald, but he felt it was essential to keep the Council liaison in the program as well.

Ryvers and Dziwenka were roundly thanked by Council for the creation of the program, with Councillor Barry Turner saying that “the program is well organized, with clear goals and scope” and that he looked forward to the program getting started.

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