The results of the Youth Vital Signs (YVS) 2014 report suggests that many Winnipeg youths will spend their future away from the city they grew up in. Where the challenge lies for the current crop of mayoral candidates is making sure they come back, or don’t leave at all.
The YVS report conducted by The Winnipeg Foundation, polled 1,864 Winnipeg youths aged 14-29. The results were telling, with 41 per cent of respondents claiming their futures wouldn’t be in the Keystone province.
For the six mayoral candidates in attendance at the Youth Vital Signs Forum on Youth Issues with Mayoral Candidates held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Thursday night, the statistic and the prospect of Manitoba’s youth exploring the world wasn’t negative, but it did come with a caution.
“I left the province,” said Brian Bowman, the second youngest candidate of the seven hopefuls. “I lived in Mexico City for a while, I lived in Toronto. If anyone wants to move away and see the world, I don’t want to create that fortress mentality.”
Bowman was quick to note that many of the province’s youngest and brightest were being lost to other parts of Canada and beyond.
“I think it’s concerning,” he said. “Instead of the dialogue here of younger people moving to Calgary or Toronto, I want the dialogue in those cities to be about their youth moving to Winnipeg.
“Until that is the dialogue, we haven’t done our job as politicians and elected officials.”
Bowman, along with Paula Havixbeck, David Sanders, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Michel Fillion and Robert-Falcon Ouellette were seated in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday night. Gord Steeves was the lone absentee.
“I think people open up their mind when they explore the world,” said Ouellette, who grew up in Calgary and earned his PhD in Quebec.
“I don’t think it is an all or nothing decision.”
Christopher Clacio, 22, who runs a Facebook group that encourages youth and new voters to discuss political issues at hand in Winnipeg, said both Bowman and Ouellette have impressed him, both by their individual messages and their youthfulness.
“I agree on their terms. As a young person, it is up to me whether I want to stay or not, that’s an option I have,” Clacio said. “It comes down to opportunities for people here. In some cases, Winnipeg is the place to be. In others, it’s elsewhere.”
Click here to see the series of CNC articles, by Red River College Journalism students, who covered the Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum.