Moosomin’s first youth councillor moving on

June 23, 2022, 8:07 am
by Kevin Weedmark

Youth councillor Victor Santos Cardoza and Moosomin town councillor Murray Gray. Victor was Moosomin’s first Youth Councillor and is now moving on as he is graduating.

The first person to fill the role of youth councillor on Moosomin town council is graduating and moving on, and the town will have a new youth councillor this fall.

Victor Santos Cardoza was the first person to fill the role on town council, and he says he enjoyed the experience so much, and learned so much, that he may run to serve on town council as a full councillor in future.

Councillor Murray Gray came up with the idea of adding a youth member around the council table.

“There was a discussion at SUMA about inclusion with your council and there was a session about engaging the youth. Who is more concerned about the future than the youth? They have more to gain or lose from the decisions made around the table than anyone else because they’re going to have to live with those decisions longer.

“I thought that one way to involve the youth would be to have a youth member on council. I brought it to council and everyone thought it was a really good idea.”

Different perspective
Gray says that having a youth member at the council table brings a different perspective.

“It is contributed to council in ways,” he said.

“Victor has a different perspective than how we might think about things. Sometimes we get a little complacent and we have a different view simply because of age, so having the perspective of a younger person really benefits us.

“I think it benefits Victor almost as much as it benefits us because he’s learning from the inside the workings of a council and the learning curve for him has probably been huge, and as beneficial to him as hearing his opinions has been for us on the other side. So I think it has been awesome for both parties.”

Wanting to give back
Victor and his family were given the opportunity to stay in Canada after an outpouring of support from the community five years ago. He says he saw the youth councillor role as a way to give back to the community that helped his family.

“Sherrie Meredith and Jeff St. Onge, brought the idea up to me. I didn’t know what went on in the council. It was fairly new to me and I wasn’t really into politics at the time as well, but the thought of being youth councillor and being able to contribute to the community really sparked my interest,” he says. “I wanted to get involved more. I wanted to give back after the love and support the community showed for me and my family.”

A lot to learn
Victor says he has learned a lot about how the town works by being on council.

“There is quite a bit of work that goes into running the town and keeping everyone in the community happy,” he said. “I learned so much about things like budgets, and how much planning and work goes into everything the town does. It has been a really good learning experience so far. As my time’s coming up close, I feel like every meeting there is still something new to learn. It has been an honor, really, being a part of the council.”

New youth councillor
Victor will continue as youth councillor until September when there will be a new face representing the community’s youth on town council.

“The most important thing for whoever will be the new youth councillor is having an interest in the community,” Murray said. “There definitely must be an interest in council, an interest in the community and doing what is right. I think that is really important for the next youth councillor to know, they will be there to represent the youth, but it is a responsibility as well.

“One thing I do think that is going to be beneficial is that it’s somebody going into Grade 11 so they can spend two years with us. I think the first three or four months is a matter of getting your bearings and getting comfortable and then after that there can be more of a contribution.”

Blazing the path
Victor says the next youth councillor will benefit from the experience he and the council have had over the last two years.

“When I started it was the first time there was a youth councillor, so it was a new concept. It took some time to adjust and know what my roles were inside the council. Now that I have gone through it and I’ve seen this is what the layout is and knowing what my responsibilities are, and now that council has had the experience of having a youth councillor, I think it will be a much easier experience for the next person.”

Murray says the last two years have been a learning experience. “We didn’t know either exactly how it would look, truthfully,” he said. “I brought the idea forward, but as far as how it would actually work, we were just adapting as it went. And now that we’ve had this experience I wouldn’t change anything. The way we set it up and the way it happened, it worked very good. For me because it was my project, I communicate with Victor a lot and made sure he was on board. Maybe going forward, that could be more the entire council rather than just me. Just to share that responsibility a little bit more.”

Role has sparked an interest
Victor says the role has sparked a strong interest in local politics for him.

“I looked at my role as representing the youth and the school, and that’s a big responsibility, to try to represent those people, to make sure their voice is heard if they have any concerns. It is important supporting their ideas or any concerns brought up, and their ideas on how we can improve the community. I think hopefully in my future I will run for council.”

“That would really be the pinnacle of what I wanted to accomplish,” said Murray. “You’ve got guys aging and retiring, so you’re going to need some new faces showing up. I’m 48 years old and I’m considered to be a young council member, and I’m not young, so it’s good to have younger people who are interested in their community and the direction it takes in the future. Hearing Victor say that he might run in the future makes that chest pump out.”

“I really thank Murray Gray and the rest of the council for getting me so involved,” said Victor. “It has really been an eye-opening experience and it has really opened my interest of being even more involved.”