Since Mayor Karen Elliott’s conversation last week with the Squamish Youth Council about her decision not to run for mayor, I have found myself thinking about the future of the Youth Council, as well as the youth voice of Squamish. Are we going to be able to get the same amount of support and respect that Mayor Elliott has given us?
I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the mayor of our town on the youth strategy and youth council, but have I used that connection wisely? Have I even used it at all? I’m realizing that I might have missed my opportunity to fully take advantage of such a rare privilege that not every teenager can get — even just to be able to call her by her first name during youth council meetings is a privilege.
Mayor Elliott takes pride in finding seeds that need to be planted and watching them grow, and she is such an activist for youth. Not every town gets to have a mayor like that. We are lucky to have had her.
The first thing I felt when Mayor Elliott told the youth council about her decision was respect for her ability to make her own choice. It wasn’t until later on after taking some time to process that I realized how much of a positive impact she has had. Will the next mayor be able to accomplish the same? Otherwise, I feel that our voice as youth in Squamish might just fade away like a breath in the cold.
What some might not understand is that youth aren’t just a piece of the budget that can be cut.
We are the next generation, we are people, and we matter.
We aren’t a one or two-year investment, we are a legacy to the community that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
We are just as important as anyone else in the community, because we are the future of Squamish. How can the future of Squamish be bright if we don’t receive the support that we need?
I believe that the youth voice matters and now I’m realizing how critical a youth-loving mayor is. If our next mayor can’t support the youth voice then we will surely see a hole in our community form. We need to preserve what Mayor Elliott and the youth have worked so hard to create because it’s not only Mayor Elliott’s time and effort that has been spent on this, but also our time.
To the future mayor of Squamish: we need your support. Please give us your dedication and pride. The youth council has already impacted the lives of youth in our community, and we’re only just starting. We’re tackling critical issues in our young lives: mental health, finding our voice, creating accessibility.
Please don’t let us down.
Grant Boguski is a member of the Squamish Youth Council, a local student and contributing youth columnist for The Squamish Chief.