An Airdrie woman is part of an initiative to get more women involved in every level of Canadian politics.
24 year old Nyagua Chiek recently travelled to Ottawa to serve as one of 338 Daughters of the Vote delegates, one representing every riding in the country. Chiek represented Blake Richards' Banff - Airdrie riding.
Chiek explains that Daughters of the Vote is an initiative of Equal Voice Canada and is meant to inspire more women to be involved in politics. Currently, only 26 per cent of the MPs in Canada are women.
Chiek says the three days in the nation's capital was an exciting experience. "The first day we had lectures from different politicians then we had our workshps and spoke about women in politics. Then we had MPs come, some who'd won and some who'd lost and we talked more about drafting women into politics."
The second day was International Women's Day when the young women took their riding's seats in the House of Commons. "All of the young girls went to the House of Commons and there was a select number that were taken to testify to the standing committee on the Status of Women. There were also girls who gave their members statement, which was one of the things that I did."
Chiek, being a first generation South Sudanese - Canadian, speaks on mass atrocity prevention and human rights.
"I was born in Guelph, Ontario, but ny parents and half of my brothers and sisters are war refugees from South Sudan. So knowing about their experiences and the experiences of my extended family, I felt a strong need to carry that into my statement in the House of Commons. One of the things I really like to advocare for is, in any sort of society, what needs to happen is a push to protect our most vulnerable. I really do believe that our freedoms are all connected to each other, and if there is a way to make society better we can help those who aren't doing so well first. I spoke about how Canada has been so gracious to my family and other war refugees in bringing them into this country."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the rest of the major party leaders were in the house when the delegates took their seats. Chiek has had an opportunity to meet the Prime Minister and to be in the House before, but this time was different. "I thought it would be similar but it was a really different experience seeing the whole room filled with women."
The overall experience might have left many feeling somewhat intimidated, but Chiek didn't feel that way. "I didn't feel intimidated, I felt at home. I think that was the biggest thing I drew away, that politics is not a place that I should feel like an outsider in because these are decisions that are going to affect me, so I should be present."
Over Canada's history, only 314 female MPs have been elected. That day in the House of Commons, 338 young women took their seats. Chiek believes that it's possible that one of them may be a future Prime Minister. What about Prime Minister Nyagua Chiek?
She laughs, "Maybe one day it might be me, I'm not sure, but I definitely wouldn't be surprised at all if one of the Daughters of the Vote ended up becoming Prime Minister in the near future."
Questions, comments or story ideas? Email us at [email protected]