Moving Forward: What Has Changed Since The Last Provincial Election?
On May 7, 2018, four YouthREX Youth Research Assistants attended a youth-focused town hall hosted by Laidlaw Foundation, TVO, For Youth Initiative, and Twitter Canada. There, leaders from three of Ontario’s political parties described their platforms and answered audience questions.
We connected with two of our former Research Assistants, Jae Woong Han and Jathusha Mahenthirarajan, to reflect on what has changed over the last four years and what their hopes are for Ontario going forward. Check out their responses below!
Jae Woong Han: Empowering Youth Voices Here and Everywhere
Compared to the 2018 election, I have noticed more and more youth are engaged in politics. This is because youth are realizing that politics are influencing their daily lives. Over the last four years, there have been many social movements against discrimination, which include Black Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate, Me Too Movement, and even more movements are growing across the world.
I find there are more youth activists covered in the media – however, there should be more support in the youth movement and empowering youth voices. Also, more and more young people are taking up space on social media to share various perspectives on societal issues. This is leading to more civic engagement with youth and helping them find their own stance on political issues.
Where I’m from in South Korea, there are more youth politicians in both the Conservative and Democratic parties. Because of this, the media is shining a light on environmental and political activists and giving a voice to young people. After my graduation this summer, I will be going back to South Korea to do youth activism. I want to raise more youth voices in Korean politics and bring awareness to youth on the importance of political awareness and engagement.
I’m hoping youth voices continue to be amplified, and more funding is poured into youth programs that give young people agency over their rights and civic responsibility. I also believe that it is very crucial for both academics and the media to support youth activism. During my time in South Korea, I have learned the importance of using both academics and media to raise youth voices. I believe this is what YouthREX is currently doing to support the youth in Ontario.
Jae Woong Han is an international student from South Korea soon enrolling in the Master of Social Work program at York University. Jae studies critical social work perspectives to support youth in Ontario. Read his last reflection on the 2018 Ontario Election here.
Jathusha Mahenthirarajan: Choose Someone to Represent You
Four years ago, Doug Ford was the only provincial candidate that declined the invitation for a youth-focused town hall. Aligned with this action, Doug Ford continued to not show up for the young people in Ontario.
During his time in office – whether it was getting rid of the Provincial Advocate for Children and youth, dropping support for three new post-secondary campuses in the GTA, or cutting funding for children’s mental health programs – it is clear that our concerns were and will not be heard.
Empowered by the resurgence of socio-political movements, I believe in young voters to hold candidates accountable to values of equity and justice, and choose politicians who are truly champions for all people.
Jathusha Mahenthirarajan has a B.A. in Human Rights & Equity Studies from York University. She’s also the founder of L.I.G.H.T., a youth-led organization committed to creating change by investing in the leadership potential of young people. Read her last reflection on the 2018 Ontario Election here.