École Héritage student Aaqilah Rahim recently visited the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa as part of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (FJCF) Parlement jeunesse pancanadien 2018.
The FJCF National Youth Parliament brings to Ottawa approximately 100 young francophone Canadians from across the country.
The participants, ranging in age from 16 to 25, get the opportunity to play a role within parliament and learn about politics through that experience.
Of the youth from across Canada, Rahim who is in Grade 9 was the only student from northern Alberta chosen to participate in the 4-day event from January 11 to the 14.
This was not Rahim’s first time in Ottawa but it was her first time there as part of the Youth Parliament experience.
“There was about 75 youth and the rest were adults but I was the only one from northern Alberta. There were ten people from Edmonton who were all adults and another youth from Lethbridge.”
Rahim says she found so much that was exciting about the experience but what interested her most was meeting likeminded people interested in politics and leadership.
“It was just so cool to meet new people but I also met some people that I knew already from previous functions,“says Rahim.
Another person Aaqilah Rahim met in Ottawa was human rights lawyer Anne Levesque who is from Falher.
While in Ottawa, Rahim worked as a senate page, a role she found interesting and extremely busy.
“I was page for the Senate and I didn’t realise all the steps that you have to follow to become page. There are many steps that you have to be familiar with and memorize to do a good job. That was new,” she says.
The participants did a lot while in Parliament such as ringing Carillon Bells in the Peace Tower and met with Justin Trudeau briefly. He heard they were there and he wanted to enquire how they were doing.
However, she says she found the parliamentary sessions the most compelling.
“I enjoyed the sessions in parliament the most. As a page, you walk a lot and it’s non-stop. One page walked an average of 16km a day. We did that for about 6 to 8 hours per day. They were long seasons; it was a workout.”
Rahim applied for the Parlement jeunesse pancanadien program online and hoped for the best.
“I did it online and had to write a resume as to why I wanted to go, what interested me and what would make me a good candidate,” she says and now that she was accepted she sees it as a stepping stone to other opportunities.
“So , now that I did this event they are thinking of adding a page program for the youth parliament of Alberta and they want me to help run it as an animateur, but we are not sure if that program will be settled yet.”
While Aaqilah has a consuming interest in politics she has no plans to pursue politics as a career.
However, she says she would like to do her first year of university in Ottawa and participate in the senate page program.
Coincidently, a recent École Héritage graduate, Chloé Maisonneuve, is currently involved in the senate page program and Rahim crossed paths with Maisonneuve during her time in Ottawa.
“You have to be in your first year of university to be part of that program. So I am planning to do that and come back to Alberta to finish University,” says Rahim.
“I want to be a surgeon, so I am going to study medicine,” says Rahim.
“Politics intrigues me but once you get into politics there is really no way out of it, so I don’t want to be stuck there my whole life. But the page program is great for young leaders to try and experiment with things.”