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Young people, we must help shape island home

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Get involved: it has become overwhelmingly important that young people recognise both the importance of their vote and the opportunity to secure their future by voting

Marcus Mosiah Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

It is incumbent upon us as young people to look back at the struggles that our ancestors endured. We must acknowledge those who have paved the way for us to follow, and who laid the foundation upon which we build.

A plethora of different strands were woven into the political, economic and social fabric of Bermuda in the first half of the 20th century. These included the women’s suffrage movement, the universal adult suffrage movement and the prolonged quest for racial and economic equality.

Inextricably linked to the success in achieving those objectives was the need for progressive legislation designed to stop the longstanding, discriminatory convention of restricting votes and opportunities for a large percentage of Bermudians.

Researching and learning the history of our island’s electoral system, the Legislature, and the struggles fought on our behalf has been a humbling and enlightening journey for all of the young people involved. Generation Next will be preparing written submissions to present to the Government and the Opposition, proposing a collaboration to ensure that the electoral history and the struggles that have been fought on behalf of the people of our island are highlighted and taught in our education system.

I must laud the tireless commitment and hard work of the young people involved in this initiative; their dedication and genuine desire to educate, involve, and motivate their peers has been truly inspiring. Without the support, encouragement and involvement of the young people, this initiative could and would not have been a success.

Bermuda, rest assured that there are young people ready, eager and capable of carrying us into a future filled with promise and prosperity.

Generation Next is pleased to report that in the three weeks since the commencement of its voter registration drive, hundreds of young people have registered to vote and have learnt about the history of the voting and electoral system.

We continue to hand out material regarding Bermuda’s voting history and parliamentary procedures. This literature is inclusive of two pieces entitled ,i>The Evolution of Bermuda’s Franchise and How Bermuda’s Parliament Works by James E. Smith, former Clerk to the Legislature. We have printed more Generation Next T-shirts, which young people have proudly worn while canvassing the youth.

We have discussed a range of topics that span educating the community on public policy issues, identifying and developing resolutions to the concerns raised by young people — ie, scholarships, the present structure for the public education system, jobs, etc — identifying why young people are not participating in the voting process, and how to urge them to get involved.

It has become overwhelmingly important that young people recognise both the importance of their vote and the opportunity to secure their future by voting. The political landscape in Bermuda has been controversial and warrants further examination and dialogue. An interesting observation made is that the moves considered in the best interest for the future and for the sustainability of Bermuda have included no consultation with the future of Bermuda — young people.

It is vitally important that we not only feel a part of the process in shaping Bermuda, but that we contribute to the process; learning how to hold elected officials accountable, knowing the right questions to ask, who to turn to when questions arise, and how to obtain materials to ensure that the Government is operating by both the spirit and letter of the law.

We vow to continue this initiative and it is our hope that through these efforts young voters will be motivated to get involved so that they may understand how the political process affects their everyday lives. It is to be hoped this will inspire them to become the change they desire to see in our island home.

In tandem with the voter registration drive, Generation Next will be holding a public youth summit, an event where young Bermudians can identify their concerns and engage in meaningful dialogue, which will address frequently asked questions such as “Does my vote count?” or “Why is it important that I am involved in the electoral process?”.

We will provide further details on our youth summit at the earliest opportunity and offer a big thank you to the public for their continued support and encouragement. The youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow! Generation Next!

If anyone desires a T-shirt or needs forms to complete, timely delivery of both can be arranged.

Eron Hill, who can be contacted at eronhill@live.com or 518-6576, is studying for an LLB Law Hons degree at Durham University

Generation Next: Eron Hill (File photograph)