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A memorable week

A Memorable Week

Imagine this: you’re staying at a hotel for a week, but you’re almost never there because your days start at 7 a.m. and often finish after midnight. There are more and more receptions, you have lunch with senators, you dine with members of Parliament, you get a guided tour of Parliament, you attend Question Period and you meet the Prime Minister. This was my life for a week as the leader of a group of 15 to 19 year olds from across the country who were visiting the National Capital Region. These young people were taking part in the first of three sessions of the Forum for Young Canadians (FFYC), from February 14 to 20. I’m 25 years old, and I work in the Real Property Branch of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). This is the story of a memorable week at Forum.

It all began in November, when I learned that the FFYC was looking for dynamic federal employees to take charge of about 100 students as part of the 2016 edition of the Forum. The FFYC, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is a program that gives young motivated leaders an opportunity to immerse themselves in the Canadian political and institutional world and that encourages them to get involved in their communities.

Passionate about politics for many years, I didn’t think twice about applying. From among 300 candidates from various departments across Canada, I was chosen as one of the 15 new group leaders for the 2016 Forum. It was an honor, but also a great responsibility.

I’ve been passionate about engaging youth for a very long time now. After I graduated from high school, I had the privilege of being involved and facilitating a number of events in the Franco-Ontarian community, similar in nature to the FFYC. And it’s through my participation in various forums, youth parliaments and seminars on the political process that I eventually decided to pursue my university studies in political science and public and international affairs, as well as subsequently join the federal public service.

As group leaders, my colleagues and I had the chance to guide roughly 120 students through a number of parliamentary simulations, conferences, workshops and receptions. I was very impressed by the caliber of the program participants. Whether during a simulated conference of provincial premiers, a formal lunch at the Senate, or even a training day at the offices of Export Development Canada, the students always demonstrated tact, respect and conviction when discussing and debating hot topics. The week was not only a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity outside of the classroom setting, it also served as a unique platform for information sharing and cultural exchange among the students, who forged ties and friendships and became a cohesive team.

A surprise visit

For many students and group leaders, the highlight of the week was Friday evening, when the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, came to greet the group. Having personally taken the youth portfolio in his Cabinet, the Prime Minister delivered a message that resonated very well with the audience and the FFYC mission: young people are a strong force and shouldn’t be content to be the leaders of tomorrow in their communities. In fact, Mr. Trudeau feels that they can and must play a leadership role right now.

One thing is certain: the week was a resounding success. I will definitely apply to be a group leader again next year, and I encourage my PSPC colleagues to do the same!

If you’re energetic, like to work with young people and want to have an unforgettable week, I urge you to apply for this wonderful experience next year. Also, if you know 15 to 19 year olds in your community who are interested in politics, government and civic engagement, I encourage you to talk to them about the FFYC.

Photo (from left to right): Jean-Luc Moon, Public Services and Procurement Canada; Laura Smith, Health Canada; the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; Anissa Elabbas, Canada Revenue Agency; Laura Pinkham, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

A text by Jean-Luc Moon, Public Services and Procurement Canada, Chef de Groupe, Session 1, 2016

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