Young students prepare for their turn at the polls

Chilliwack's young are getting an early lesson in democracy.

Chilliwack’s young students are getting an early lesson in democracy.

On May 2, Central elementary’s Grade 5 and 6 students are going to the polls. Teachers Christopher Lister and Suzanne Bartel are holding a mock election for their students as part of the social studies curriculum.

Mock elections are not new, teachers have been holding them for years, getting their students to run against each other, and having classes vote on the pretend parties. But the difference with Central’s election, they’re bringing in real candidates and voting on those real candidates.

Over a two-week span, which started earlier this week, five candidates – Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell, Marxist-Leninist Party; Gwen O’Mahony, New Democratic Party; Diane Janzen, Liberal Party; Jamie Hoskins, Green Party; and Clive Edwards, Western Block Party – will be presenting to the kids their party’s views, and answering questions from the students.

Parents have also been invited to participate.

The idea to bring the local candidates in to the school stemmed from an English as a second language student asking Bartel who her parents should vote for in the May 2 federal election.

Bartel informed the student that she couldn’t tell her parents who to vote for, they had to decide that for themselves based on their own personal beliefs. And what better way to help the students and their parents better understand than to bring the candidates in themselves.

“By doing this, our students are learning what it means to live in a country that practices democracy,” said Bartel.

“We’re reminding them they have a voice,” added Lister. “And we hope when they’re able to vote they will participate in their right and responsibility as a citizen to vote.”

Voter turnout in the 2008 federal election reached an all-time low with just 59 per cent of Canada voting. In several communities across the country, voter turnout was less than 50 per cent.

Mock elections, like the one at Central, that parallel real elections could improve those numbers.

According to Student Vote, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to increasing student interest in elections, if kids know at an early age about democracy, and know how to vote and why they should vote, they’re more likely to vote when they’re of age.

When other schools heard about Central’s election process, they asked to participate. Cultus Lake elementary, Strathcona elementary, Little Mountain elementary, Watson elementary and Vedder elementary will either attend the school for the talks, or watch them via streaming video on Central’s website.

Students must see all presentations to be able to vote.

“We’re trying to be as unbiased as possible,” said Bartel. “No matter how big or small a party is, they deserve to be listened to.”

Following the last candidate’s presentation on April 29, the students will submit their ballots.

“It will be really interesting to compare the student vote with the Canada-wide vote,” said Bartel.

All videos will be streaming live at www.livestream.com/centralelection from April 26 to 28 at 10:30 a.m. and April 29 at 1 p.m. The videos will also be archived on the site.

Just Posted

Prominent Chilliwack realtor says he doesn’t know how child porn got on his computer

Closing arguments heard in Ian Robert Meissner’s trial for accessing and possessing child pornography

More people in Chiliwack coming in to shelters to get out of the cold

Ruth and Naomi’s went over-capacity this week to accommodate shelter guests coming in from the cold

Q&A with federal Liberal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Francois-Philippe Champagne visited the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 123

Mini Med School events are slated for March

Free info sessions allow attendees a chance to talk face-to-face with local medical professionals

Agassiz break and enter suspect arrested

The Chilliwack man faces charges relating to break and enters throughout Agassiz

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Avalanche control planned tomorrow on Highway 1

The highway will be closed in the morning east of Revelstoke

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Mayors approve SkyTrain extension to UBC

Next step is a business plan and public consultation

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Most Read