Growing up in Chesterfield Inlet Sarah Mazhero never expected to meet the Canadian prime minister. But just a few months into her two-year term on the prime minister’s youth council, she is finding herself on regular Zoom calls with Justin Trudeau.
“It was a bit surreal, it’s not everyday that you get to talk to the prime minister,” Mazhero said.
Mazhero is one of 10 youth candidates that has been selected from across the country to take part in the council. The group meets regularly to discuss issues that are important to them, with a view to having an influence on government policy.
Mazhero said she was shocked to find out she was selected for the position in June.
“This is something that is a very unique opportunity,” she said. “I was just very grateful to be selected through that process. As youth we don’t see how those things happen and that affects our opinions.”
Mazhero was born in Vancouver to Zimbabwean parents. Her family moved to Chesterfield Inlet when she was only four years old. Although Mazhero eventually moved to Montreal with her father, her mother is still working as the head nurse in the community to this day.
“I had my formative childhood up there from 2000 to 2007 and then I moved to Montreal for the rest of my schooling, just because of the way schooling in Nunavut can be,” she said. “I’m lucky and privileged to have been able to have done that.”
Mazhero said the disparity between education in Indigenous communities and the rest of Canada is one of the issues she hopes to bring to the prime minister’s attention.
“There still needs to be work done for people in school in Nunavut to have the same opportunities that they have down south,” said Mazhero.
A recent graduate of Concordia University, Mazhero majored in political science with a minor in First Peoples studies. Having grown up as a Black Canadian in Nunavut, and studying Indigenous issues at school, Mazhero said she is passionate about advocating for minority rights.
As far as Nunavut is concerned, she is particularly interested in telling the prime minister the importance of having clean drinking water, addressing the lack of food security and the poor housing conditions. She also wants to make sure she is a voice for Black Canadians.
“We do tend to compare ourselves to the people south of the border, and we always say we’re not like African Americans and we don’t treat Black Canadians the same way. But there’s still racism that Canada needs to acknowledge,” she said.
Mazhero took part in student politics while at university. She is also currently working for Airbnb, where she is in charge of reviewing discrimination cases.
In the long term Mazhero said she hopes to go to law school so she can better understand the inner workings of the legal system.
As for a future in politics, Mazhero said she isn’t committing to anything yet, but she’s interested by the prospect.
“With the right time I would love to have a leadership standpoint to have people represented and letting them know I’m there to help. We won’t close that door.”