words/ MEGAN SIBLEY
For today’s young people, the word ‘politics’ stirs up an urgent and defined separation between two jarringly-opposite camps.
In Camp One, we have those that are genuinely repelled by all things political. They cringe at the thought of having to choose between candidates on a ballot, and if they never heard anything about Donald Trump ever again, it wouldn’t be too soon.
And then there’s the ever-optimistic residents of Camp Two. These people get excited at the very thought of presidential debates, and they spend hours poring over political platforms and campaign conspiracies.
Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret here. There is a third, lesser-known and less-populated camp. This camp is full of tomorrow’s political leaders. They are the people who not only care about politics, but actively participate in them. These are the people who will change the world.
Ally Freedman is one such world changer. She is a 21-year-old Carleton University student, and a sixth-generation Metis woman. But most importantly, for the sake of this article, she is a Daughter of the Vote.
It all started out fairly unassumingly. Freedman applied to the Daughters of the Vote (DOV) program because she had always been a politics junkie. For her, vote meant government which meant politics which meant the very pinnacle of her career aspirations.
The online forum asked applicants to identify issues in their community, and discuss how they would solve them given the opportunity. A click of a mouse and the online application was complete- and soon forgotten about. Eight months later, Freedman received word that her application was selected.
“I think that’s the I realized that this was as real thing, and it was important,” says Freedman.
At the time, Freedman didn’t know a whole lot about DOV: and we’re assuming that you don’t either. So here’s the lowdown. DOV chooses one young woman between the ages of 18 and 23 from each riding in Canada- 338 in all (more than have ever been elected in Canadian politics.) Driven by historical women’s suffrage in Canada, DOV empowers these young women by giving them a voice.
DOV candidates were invited to Ottawa in early March for a week of mentorship, networking, events, and political activism. The week preceded the main event: the delegates march to parliament and sit in the House of Commons.
Freedman was the delegate representing Ottawa Centre, and as a result, has built a strong relationship with her local Member of Parliament Catherine McKenna. Seeing potential in Freedman, McKenna chose to be her mentor through Go Sponsor Her: a social media campaign that challenges top executives to publicly pledge to the sponsorship of a young woman in their community.
In the past few months, Freedman has lived the political dream. Meeting influencers like Kim Campbell and exercising her voice on a national stage has solidified her goal to run for government someday.
“I used to be uncertain, I didn’t think I could run for politics,” says Freedman. “I would sit it my classes with all of these people who knew so much more than me.”
The DOV experience has also opened Freedman’s eyes to issues happening across Canada- issues that are often overlooked and underestimated.
“Everyone was able to talk about the thing that their community faced, and we were all on the same page,” Freedman says.
March 8th marked International Women’s Day. It honoured strong, proud, courageous women like Ally Freedman who overcome what once was to improve what is, and what will be.
“We are the next generation,” says Freedman. “The policies put in place today will affect us most.”
Freedman and her 338 fellow DOV delegates have proven that young women who are driven and informed and supported can make a difference. They have exemplified what it means to stop talking, and start doing. They have communicated the power of many: the power of women.