Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed 10 new members to his Youth Council last week.
One of them, Zander Affleck, is from Yellowknife.
“I was definitely a bit surprised when I found out,” said Affleck.
“I was pretty happy about it. We heard back around a month ago but weren’t able to tell people for a while. I think the news release went out when we were actually in Ottawa at the meeting,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s Youth Council is a non-partisan advisory board created by Trudeau in 2016, and is made up of Canadian youth aged 16 to 24 from across the country.
Affleck said one issue he felt was important to raise at the capital was healthcare, and access to it.
“For me personally, I’m interested a lot in healthcare and health of people especially in the North,” Affleck said.
“And so some of the things I asked the prime minister about and just talked to the prime minister about were health disparities we see in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. And I also talked about the lack of Indigenous physicians in healthcare, especially in the North,” he said.
Affleck said living in the North has given him a unique perspective on some of these issues.
“Living in Yellowknife from working out to travelling out to smaller communities outside of Yellowknife, more rural and remote communities of the Northwest Territories, you really see the differences in resources available to them and I think it’s important to have equitable healthcare services,” said Affleck.
“There’s a lot that could be done through education and providing more opportunities to youth from the small northern communities who would be more likely to want to go back to them and work there and bring some knowledge,” said Affleck.
“If youth from more small, rural and remote communities were able to have equal access to opportunities then I think that you’d see more leaders coming back and bringing new perspectives to communities.”
Affleck said being a part of the youth council was an amazing experience for him.
“It’s great to see youth getting involved with politics, and to actually get a voice at the table when it comes to priorities and actions of government,” said Affleck.
“On the council we have youth from all three territories, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, as well across the provinces and it’s just great to hear everyone’s different perspective and opinion,” he said.
The next call for applications to the youth council is expected late this summer.