Preparations for the annual Forum for Young Canadians are
underway all over Canada.
Students participating in the forum spend a week in Ottawa
learning about our country and how our government works. The
Foundation for the Study of Processes of Government in Canada
sponsors the project, which attracts more than 500 senior high-school
students and CEGEP students. The week-long sessions will start
in March 1999 and many schools are nominating their delegates
At the forum, students from 16 to 19 years of age learn first-hand
how the Canadian government works. The week is filled with speakers,
discussions, and even simulations of an election, Cabinet committees,
a House of Commons question period, and a federal-provincial
conference. There are also sessions where students look at the
relationships between the government and business, labour, the
media and citizens' groups.
Students also take part in a tour of the National Capital
Region, participate in sports, and enjoy both an evening of skits
and entertainment and a closing dinner at the National Arts Centre.
Besides the official agenda, there is a hidden agenda. The
latter includes all the things students do and learn that are
not on the formal agenda, such as meeting people and making friends
from other parts of the country. Forum students learn about other
cultures and about breaking stereotypes, says Steve Holbrow,
a history teacher at Garden Valley Collegiate.
Students nominated to attend Forum for Young Canadians must
have specific qualifications. These include a reputation for
responsibility, an indication that he or she will benefit from
the experience, leadership potential, and good performance in
school work. The student should also be interested in current
national and community affairs and have a willingness to share
the forum experience with others.
There will be four sessions held in 1999, with the first one
starting March 13-20. Subsequent sessions are scheduled for March
20-27, April 17-24, and April 24-May 1. Canadian schools are
invited to recommend two students who have the appropriate characteristics.
Provincial and territorial committees then make final selections
based on the number of people allowed from their region.
The Forum for Young Canadians costs $690 which includes tuition,
and room and board. Participating students must raise the first
$195 of travel expenses and the rest is covered by Open House
Canada (the youth-exchange program of the Department of Canadian
Heritage) and by the Foundation for the Study of the Processes
of Government in Canada. Many students obtain financial support
from local sponsors, including school boards, students councils,
community organizations, service clubs, private companies, and