The future does not belong to us

Students in the Winnipeg Chamber's High School Program met with Mayor Sam Katz to discuss issues for their generation.
Students in the Winnipeg Chamber’s High School Program met with Mayor Sam Katz to discuss issues for their generation.
Dave Angus President and CEO of  the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce
Dave Angus
President and CEO of
the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

They are the ones who must live with the decisions made today.
They are the ones who will be the leaders of tomorrow.
And they are the ones who must be listened to.
Since 2007, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce has had a High School Program to hear directly from our next generation.
The program started with a 16-member student council, made up of students in Grades 11 and 12 from Pembina Trails School Division. The first year, the students themselves planned a one-day conference that explored the possibility of a one-stop source of career information and envisioned the type of city in which they’d want to live.
The program has evolved since then. Today, all Winnipeg school divisions, plus several private schools, are part of the High School Program. The objective is to provide the students with the tools, knowledge and connections to become the leaders of tomorrow, to give them a voice, and to let them know how they can make a difference.
This year, students had an opportunity to meet privately with the mayor and premier to discuss issues of concern to their generation – issues such as the legalization of marijuana, fluoride in our tap water, phosphorous lakes, public transit, and what it takes to be a community leader.
“I was really surprised at his (the premier’s) response to our marijuana question, and I really liked the way he answered it. He was so forthright!” said one student from Nelson McIntyre Collegiate.
Another Nelson McIntyre student said: “It was really cool to be listening to Greg Selinger. He gave me an insight on politics that I did not have.”
As our workforce of tomorrow, this year’s students also got to discover careers and opportunities they might never have contemplated – touring such places as Assentworks, a public makerspace with cool people and equally cool equipment; and the Canadian International Grains Institute, where high above Portage and Main, there’s a fully functional pasta-making operation, pilot bakery and lab that analyses Canadian grains, pulses and specialty crops.
They also got a backstage pass to the Fort Garry Hotel, where they saw the historic grandeur and elegance, plus the working guts of a hotel laundry service and kitchen. They visited the Manitoba Museum and met the people who design the exhibits and protect the historical artifacts from the ravages of time.
And coming up, they will be part of The Chamber’s BOLD initiative. Brought together for a full day, the students will learn, discuss and initiate: sharing their BOLD ideas for Making a Better Tomorrow for Young Manitobans.
They’re being encouraged to think outside the box and to tell us the sorts of changes they’d like to see in our city, whether it’s things to do and see, city planning, transportation, the environment, or perhaps social justice.
Their ideas will be incorporated into The Chamber’s BOLD platform, which will pose creative solutions to some of the issues facing our city and will be the basis for discussion with candidates in the October 2014 civic election.
At the BOLD conference, the students will also hear from a legally blind photographer, a potential mayoral candidate and an entrepreneur who appeared on the “Dragon’s Den,” in the hopes these community leaders can inspire, motivate, and show them that anything is possible.
With our next generation, anything is possible! They hold the keys to our future.

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