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Municipal Leadership and inclusion

by Carly Greavette

As a 14-year old member of the St. Catharines community, I am an avid participant in many groups, activities, and events. In particular, I find and foster a sense of belonging and inclusion as a member of the EDGE Triathlon Team, an organizer of food drives for Community Care, and an actor with the Yellow Door Theatre Project. Throughout these community and extracurricular activities, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of inclusion and equity in all aspects of our lives.

As a younger citizen looking at the city and regional council, I would hope that any council member would be kind and inclusive to their colleagues and the citizens they are representing. In our world today, I have seen how great work happens when those involved show up with compassion and empathy towards all. Going into high school this year, I sought an inclusive, equal, and accepting community. I know I do my best work when everyone can be themselves and feel accepted and understood. I would expect the same to be true for the working environment on regional and city councils.

When municipal leaders are kind and inclusive to one another, they offer an example to the community at large. Councillors’ words, tone, tweets, and actions illustrate what behaviours are appropriate in the world. Speaking out against those who do not exhibit kind actions and showing citizens that the right way to be is kind is something I always hope to see. In this way, a Councillor can make an impact with those in their immediate circle and throughout all of Niagara and beyond.

In response to the bullying and exclusion I experienced at school, I investigated its root cause. A big one is the wish of popularity. The desire to be accepted and to fit in wherever a person may be is strong and very understandable. Our community has created this unrealistic image that to be cool you must put others down and prop yourself up. In many cases, I have seen victims of bullying bully others as a way of dealing with their own experiences and insecurities. Upon reflection, who can blame them when we see local leaders acting abusively to one another?

I would hope that any council member would understand this issue and have ideas as to how our community can solve the problem. Regional and city councils could create programming for the youth community to help us understand our actions better and to learn from past mistakes. For example, Niagara Region Public Health could engage youth in school

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