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Posted: January 17, 2022

Youth councillor proposes to reform prison system

By Erin Knutson

Youth councillor Summit Wannamaker reported his resolution to change prison reform to Fernie city council after participating in British Columbia Youth Parliament (BCYP) at its most recent council meeting.

Wannamaker attended the parliamentary session as a member of the BCYP, an organization dedicated to education and service, at a virtual session at the end of 2021.

“It stands for youth serving youth, it runs several service projects throughout the year but most notably, it runs a five-day youth parliament within the legislative assembly of British Columbia. But, unfortunately, with the growing cases of COVID-19, within our province, this was not an option,” he said.

According to Wannamaker, BCYP hosted the session virtually. Traditionally it would have been held in person from Dec. 27 to Dec. 31 at the B.C. Legislature to allow participants to create a plan of action for the organization for the upcoming year.

The BCYP works to benefit a diversity of people from across the province and ensures that youth leaders have the opportunity to be heard in an official capacity.

According to the Fernie youth representative, participating remotely via the internet had little to no impact on his experience in youth parliament.

“As a member, I had the opportunity to debate bills, resolutions, and many other pieces of legislation, all in a parliamentary fashion – I had the opportunity to learn about the Westminster Parliamentary System while making several friends in the process,” he said.

Wannamaker had the opportunity to craft his own resolutions to improve society.

“It was an excellent experience to work with like-minded youth while pushing forth solutions for a better tomorrow,” he said.

One of those resolutions was to reform the prison system.

“My resolution was not addressed by the house, but I want to push treatment for those currently incarcerated rather than prison sentences,” he said.

The resolution is scheduled for debate at the next youth parliament in Kelowna, said the youth councillor.

“Hopefully, I will be attending in person, and I will be working within this organization for the next year,” he said.

As for upcoming projects, Wannamaker will be educating students within elementary schools about Westminster Parliamentary System and fundraising for youth parliament by tutoring local students for $10 per hour.

“We’re here to support you – this is a good opportunity for you, and we want to make sure you enjoy it,” said Mayor Ange Qualizza.

Lead image: Summit Wannamaker, left, with Mayor Ange Qualizza. City of Fernie file photo


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