The youth parliament held this past month in Iqaluit made a definite impression on at least one of the two students selected to represent Arviat.

Grade 11 student Lydia Kaviok, right, discusses some of the things she learned at the Youth Parliament in Iqaluit with her friend, Edith Issakiark, at John Arnalukjuak High School in Arviat on Dec. 7, 2018. Photo courtesy Gord Billard

Grade 11 student Lydia Kaviok, 16, was selected along with fellow student Leo Tatty to make the journey to Iqaluit to participate in the youth parliament, and Kaviok said she learned a lot and enjoyed the experience immensely.

She said she was surprised, excited and just a little nervous when she learned she had been selected to participate.

“There were about 23 youths, I believe, from across Nunavut at the youth parliament in Iqaluit,” said Kaviok. “From my personal perspective, I learned a lot about how the legislative assembly of Nunavut is supposed to run and how the government has so many different types of problems it’s trying to solve.”

“The two problems, or topics, that really caught my attention were the lack of proper teaching of Inuktitut in so many Nunavut schools and the problem of suicide, including one that happened recently in one Kivalliq community but I’m not totally sure which one,” she said. “Some topics are real triggers for people who experienced it or witnessed it and I don’t think it’s reasonable for people to expect our government to come up with all the answers to all the different types of problems we face.”

Kaviok said she also really enjoyed pretending to be Arviat North – Whale Cove MLA John Main.

She said she played the role of John Main for the entire youth parliament.

“I didn’t fire any premiers while I was there, but I was really busy during my time in Iqaluit,” she said.

“I think John Main is doing a really great job at his work and while I was John Main I talked about the polar bear problem in Arviat, but I didn’t get to vote because there was a lack of the time needed.”

Kaviok said going to the youth parliament was a rewarding experience for her.

She said she would definitely recommend the experience to any youth in Nunavut who had the opportunity to participate.

“I just learned an awful lot about a lot of different things while I was in Iqaluit and I totally enjoyed it all,” she said. “Being there also gave me some different things to think about while I’m finishing high school and I kind of feel like I can look at some issues or topics through different perspectives now, too.”

Gord Billard has Kaviok in his drama club at John Arnalukjuak High School in Arviat and he said he was happy to see her selected to participate because he loves the idea of the youth parliament.

He said he was a member of the youth parliament held when he was in high school.

“It was the first time that we’d ever had it in our school back in Newfoundland and I remember I was an Assembly Sergeant at Arms at one point,” laughed Billard.

Leo Tatty and Lydia Kaviok of Arviat on Nov. 28, 2018. (They were youth parliament as reps for Arvia) NNSL file photo

“I had always been aware of elections in my community as a young person, but it wasn’t until we actually set up that youth parliament that I realized the inner workings of government and how it all operates.”

Billard said there can never be anything wrong with learning how government works.

He said, in his opinion, it’s something that’s very important to learn about and understand.

“There’s also a chance that for some of these kids it might be the first steps into an interest in politics that might, one day, lead them to government,” he added.

“It all begins at these seminal little moments in people’s lives when they make decisions that last their lifetime. Someone like Lydia (Kaviok), I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she did end up in government some day as a result of this experience.”

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