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Youth opinion: Adolescent voices in Squamish matter

The Bear’s Den $10,000 Live Grant Pitch is on  April 24 at Howe Sound Secondary.

While youth voices are often overlooked, the Squamish Youth Council works hard to empower teens and give them an opportunity to be heard. 

When I joined the council last year in Grade 10, I found how youth can only go so far without the support of adults and leaders in our community backing us up. 

I realized how many groups and organizations care about amplifying young people’s voices in our community—but they just need help to figure out where to start. 

The Youth Council found just how strong the passion to help youth is when we received all of our incredible applicants for last year’s Bear’s Den. (It is like Dragons’ Den, awarding $10,000 to non-profits with projects to serve younger generations in town.) 

We saw so many amazing ideas for local teens presented last year. The 2023 Bear’s Den winner, Howe Sound Secondary, was able to use the grant money to build a safe place for students by redesigning the school courtyard. 

This year, we had an overwhelming number of applications that genuinely conveyed the passion for youth in Squamish. All of these applicants have created meaningful ideas for ways to empower the young within our community as the leaders of the future. 

Before I started getting involved in organizations such as the Squamish Youth Council, I felt like my ideas and opinions mattered less compared with the older people around me. 

After all, I have less experience, and I’m still fairly young. But after starting to get more involved, I found that youth are not just future leaders but leaders of the present. Within the youth council this year, we have had District members reach out to us, seeking our ideas and suggestions about how to prevent it. 

It showed me how much our opinions and ideas matter and how we can work with adults to solve real issues.

On International Youth Day on Aug. 12, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement reflecting on the role young people play in Canada and the world: “Young people are the leaders of today and tomorrow. I know youth have embraced our country’s strength, diversity, and inclusion—and Canada is better for it. They also understand the issues Canada faces and have the innovative solutions we need.” 

So even though, as young people, we can often feel that our viewpoints and ideas are not always taken seriously, we have to remember that there are so many adults and community leaders willing and eager to help us if they know how. Planning the Bear’s Den has made me realize just how much our community cares and wants to support youth and how we can use our voices to bring positive change into our communities. 

The Bear’s Den $10,000 Live Grant Pitch is on  April 24 at Howe Sound Secondary. Tickets can be found on Eventbrite.

Kiana Alai is a local teen and member of the Squamish Youth Council.


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