MARATHON — Two student councillors who will bring the view of the town's youth to council until next year, were sworn in during a meeting this week.
The municipality of Marathon has annually invited two student councillors to sit beside their fellow council members discussing the important issues affecting the town since 2011.
This year the town welcomed Animki Courchene and Sawyer Redden, who Mayor Rick Dumas said bring representation from the student body and keep council up-to-date with what's happening in their world in regards to their peers.
“Just in general, we want their opinion on items that we discussed as a council and by having that opinion, we're always somewhat tuned in to the use in our community and we encourage them to not be afraid to ask any questions. There's no silly question and I made sure that I reemphasize that on Monday night as well with them, every questions got validity,” said Dumas.
“With that being said, [the program] brings that opportunity for us just to be engaged, you know, there are a bunch of communities in Northwestern to that I encourage over the years to try to get participation from their youth because it brings that voice from the community to the to the council table.”
While not allowed to actually vote on issues as they are not elected officials, the student councillors are invited to participate in discussions brought before council including a wide range of topics that will be presented by the administrative staff.
Dumas said that by participating in these discussions and learning about procedure in the local government, these two youth are set on a great path through their futures.
“The first students we initiated in 2011 went on to be involved in the community and various committees and organizations and no different than some of the [Student Councillors] along the way,” he said.
“Not only that its that opportunity for them to go into the post-secondary education stream like university or college, and bring that experience and say, listen, I understand political governance, I understand how municipal governments work. I understand the relationship between municipal and provincial and federal. And so it's just it's another aspect of learning for them.
Dumas said that he’s glad to see other towns in the Association of Municipalities of Ontario see what Marathon was doing and include their youth more in the local governments.
“I presented [the program] to AMO in 2019 and talked about the impact it had. AMO is now taking on some youth internships to understand that role of the youth in our society,” he said.
“So it's great. It's a great tool and and this at the end of day we were all young at once and we didn't necessarily see we had a voice. Now I think with having student councillor participation in our councils, it gives the voice to back to the youth somewhat so they can share with their peers.”