SFU Surrey student Jaspreet Lehal will share his views and ideas about the future of B.C.’s economy at the university's first youth forum.

Youth tackle B.C.’s economy at SFU Surrey forum

Public Square's Our Future, Our Voice Youth Forum takes place Saturday at the Surrey campus.

Nearly 150 young people plan on attending Simon Fraser University’s first youth forum in Surrey on Saturday (Sept. 28), their numbers challenging the notion that youth are uninterested in shaping their collective future.

“It’s often said that youth are disconnected from and apathetic about the political process and politics, in general,” says SFU Surrey Beedie School of Business student Japreet Lehal, a university student senator who, with other participants, will share his views and ideas about the future of B.C.’s economy during the day-long event.

“Forums like these will, in fact, help to instill in students the importance of civic engagement, while giving them the opportunity to discuss their concerns. The reality is, it is our future. We need a voice.”

SFU Public Square’s Our Future, Our Voice Youth Forum is being held at SFU’s Surrey campus Saturday from 10 a.m.  until 4:30 p.m. Registration for the event is nearly full but interested young people between the ages of 16 and 25 can still be accommodated.

SFU Beedie student Amit Bhagat will also be among participants. He hopes to hear what youth of all ages have to say.

“I’m interested in listening to the views of high school and university students of different backgrounds and life experiences,” says Bhagat, who studies in Surrey and is also a member of the TELUS Vancouver Community Board.

“As a student I sometimes feel I get caught up in the bubble that is SFU Beedie and welcome this chance to step outside and hear what others are thinking.”

The forum was created from the input of youth over the course of several “idea jams” held earlier this year at each of SFU’s three campuses.

“The forum is designed for youth, by youth, and will provide a chance for them to grapple with economic issues, make new connections and also contribute to a Citizen’s Agenda for B.C.’s Economic Future,” says Jackie Pichette, research and communications officer for SFU Public Square.

“We heard loud and clear that youth want an opportunity to ask questions of decision makers, they’re concerned about what kind of job prospects lay ahead, they’d like to participate throughout the day using Twitter, they want a chance to share ideas and meet new people. They want to have influence and be heard.”

Participants will join in interactive activities, meet community representatives and ask questions of decision makers. A panel discussion will feature federal, local and regional government representatives. Peter Fassbender, B.C.’s Minster of Education, is among those invited.

Kai Nagata, a journalist and documentary filmmaker, will be facilitating the event and moderating the panel.

Community representatives from health and business industries, academia, media and more will be available to casually discuss their careers and economic perspectives with participants over lunch.

During roundtable dialogues, the participants will come up with strategies for creating wealth, promoting social equity, and protecting the environment, to be shared at a public event Oct. 3.

Thoughts and questions will also be shared throughout the day via Twitter using the hashtag #OurVoiceBC.

Participation is free (including lunch) but registration is required at sfu2013youthforum.eventbrite.ca

The event is part of SFU Public Square’s 2013 Community Summit: Charting BC’s Economic Future. Visit www.sfu.ca/publicsquare for more information on the SFU Public Square and the 2013 Community Summit.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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