Douglas College and 14 other schools join the Write the Future campaign
By Jamal Al-Bayaa, Staff Writer
The 15 post-secondary institutions that make up the BC Federation of Students unanimously voted on adopting the Vancouver Foundation’s Write the Future campaign.
The campaign is a petition and action plan surrounding BC’s Ministry of Child and Family Development, looking to improve the conditions of the 8,000 youth under their care in BC. The petition and its respective campaign comes at a time when criticism of the Ministry is prominent, with a number of suicides by those in government care gaining media attention, and with the BC NDP demanding the resignation of Child and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux.
The Write the Future campaign is addressing the lack of support for youth aged 19–25, and is proposing solutions to the significantly higher levels of homelessness, poverty, mental health issues, and suicides. Advocates hope that the provincial government will implement some sort of change.
Supporters claim that if these youths had been given continuous support from aged 19–25, they would be better equipped to handle the situation of independent living they’re thrust into at age 19. Youth in foster care would still transition out of homes and in to independent living situations at that age if the campaign is successful, but the petition asks that they are continually given support during that process, up until age 25, in the same way that 80 per cent of parents in BC are still providing some type of financial assistance to their children (aged 19–28) who live away from home.
This lack of financial support, along with the lack of long-term relationships with dependable adults, puts the youth at a disadvantage. They are living in an environment of ever-increasing transportation, education, and housing costs—while simultaneously earning lower than average incomes. Campaign advocates are also fighting for financial assistance for basic living costs such as transportation, rent, and groceries; long-term relationships with dependable adults; and opportunities to contribute to and connect with the community through creative, cultural, and volunteer activities.
The BCFS will be aligning their organizational goals with the goals of the Vancouver Foundation by adding “free tuition to post-secondary for youth from government care” to their requests.
As Simka Marshall, chair-person of the BCFS, explains, the organization believes that “everybody has a right to affordable, high quality post-secondary education,” and that what makes this campaign important is that youth from foster care don’t have access to the same resources that other students do, though they should.
The 15 schools adopting the campaign, including Douglas College, are given the creative freedom to take the campaign back to their campuses and further its cause in their own way.
“It’s an individual process,” Meredith Graham, David Lam Coordinator, said, but it will likely focus on the gathering of signatures for the petition, the continual demanding of action from the provincial government, and attempts to improve the overall welfare of youth from the care system.
Graham, the Douglas College student responsible for the new partnership between the BCFS and the Vancouver Foundation, says that it is the goal of herself and the organization to see child and youth issues on the platforms and campaigns of every one of the political parties during the upcoming provincial elections.