Special guest talks to grade nines about civic engagement
Grade 9 Civics students at The York School recently welcomed a special guest speaker – a 22-year-old alumnus who has already run for office. Gabriel Blanc ‘19 was a Green Party candidate in the 2022 Ontario election and is former co-chair of the Young Greens of Ontario.
The curriculum for the Grade 9 Civics course explores the rights and responsibilities of being an active citizen in a democratic society. Gabriel’s visit was a unique opportunity for the students to learn about civic engagement and political campaigns from a member of their own generation.
“My very short political career has been all about getting young people involved,” Gabriel told the students.
During the election campaign, Gabriel and his fellow co-chair got more youth engaged with the Green Party by successfully advocating to make memberships free for people under 30. He also organized Young Greens of Ontario clubs on university and college campuses, and signed students up to canvas for candidates in their electoral district.
Gabriel explained that he was attracted to the Green Party because its positions on environmental protection, healthcare, education and the universal basic income are aligned with his values. He says talking with voters about the very real ways issues impact the quality of their lives underscored the fact that being a politician is a serious responsibility. One constituent told him that she was struggling with precarious housing because the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) payments she receives don’t cover the cost of rent.
While the Grade 9s won’t be eligible to vote for a few years, Gabriel reminded them that they can still make important contributions to our democracy. He encouraged them to identify the issues that are most important to them, and get involved with a political party or activist group that is advocating for the changes they want to see.
Gabriel recently graduated with an Honors Bachelor of Arts in History and Environmental Studies from Brown University. He's currently doing an internship in New York with Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.
Throughout the year, guests representing a cross-section of political parties will be speaking to the Grade 9s. The information these speakers share will help the students develop their own opinions and beliefs, and determine where they fall on the political spectrum.
At The York School, Civics, History, Geography and English are taught under the umbrella of a course called the Integrated Canadian Experience (ICE). By taking a thematic approach, ICE reveals the interconnectedness of these subjects and their combined impact on our cultural identity.
Canada's first gender-inclusive independent IB World School
The York School is a gender-inclusive JK to Grade 12 independent school located in the heart of Toronto. The York School was founded in 1965 and is the first school in Canada accredited to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) from junior kindergarten (JK) to university entrance. As an IB World School, The York School's motto is Experientia Docet or Experience Teaches.