Students on the Minister's Youth Council share their diverse student perspectives and provide input on education topics. They bring a broad range of life experiences, knowledge and skills from all types of schools across Alberta.
The 2017/18 Minister's Youth Council will attend three meetings in Edmonton in September, February and May.
Alberta Education will recruit new students for the Minister's Youth Council on an annual basis.
Amber Sayed, Edmonton, Tempo School
In addition to being a provincial-level competitive speaker in both French and English, Amber has begun working on Arabic and can now read it fluently. She is her Edmonton high school’s volunteer co-ordinator, in charge of consolidating volunteer opportunities, running volunteers at events, and recording students’ hours and contributions. As an executive member of her student council, she has helped organize numerous dances, bake sales and charity events. Amber also serves as the president of her school’s Mental Health Awareness Club under jack.org, an organization leading youth in mental health awareness.
Amelia Flaherty Martin, Edmonton, Edmonton Catholic School District
Amelia is an experienced traveler from Edmonton who has been to Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and England, in addition to most of Canada’s provinces. She attended a Spanish bilingual program throughout elementary school, and she is learning to play the trombone at her junior high school. She believes strongly in the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and enjoys gymnastics, aerial arts, downhill skiing and snowboarding. Both of Amelia’s parents have had cancer, and she helped raise money for cancer charities through door-to-door fundraising, walking and running events.
Arooj Hamid, Peace River, Peace River School Division
Arooj lives in Peace River and is about to start her senior year of high school. She is a member of her community’s League of Leadership and has also been very active as part of Interact, a student branch of Rotary International. She has been actively involved in fundraising and event planning work, which has benefited UNICEF, SOS Children, Free the Children (now the WE Charity), and her local fire hall and Salvation Army facilities. Arooj is trained as a medical First Responder and is working on her skills as a youth facilitator.
Ashwati Sanjay, Calgary, Calgary Board of Education
Ashwati is originally from India, but she came to Canada before she turned four years old. She lives in Calgary and is passionate about books and music. She helps raise money for her school’s band program with bottle drives and flyer deliveries. Ashwati also helped plan, organize and bake for fundraisers for the 50th anniversary of her school
Asha Nathoo, Calgary, Calgary Board of Education
Asha is a finalist for the Calgary Youth of Distinction Leadership Award who recently helped influence proposed zoning changes that would have affected her school. She is heavily involved with the Alberta Debate and Speech Association and has been on her school’s Student Council for two years. She helps children develop reading skills through volunteer work at the local library and assists with faith classes for Kindergarten students on Saturday mornings. In 2015, she had the privilege of traveling to East Africa, where both sides of her family originate.
Bailey Dunbar, Fort Saskatchewan, Elk Island Public Schools
Bailey comes to the Minister’s Youth Council from Fort Saskatchewan. She is part of a long line of construction crane operators and hopes to continue the family tradition. She is as passionate about women in the trades as she is about mental health and suicide prevention. As an advocate for these and issues related to bullying, she was the recipient of the Diana Award in 2016. She founded the Morgan’s Mission Memorial Society in memory of her twin, who she lost to suicide in 2014. Last year, the Memorial Society held a concert for the Robb Nash project that raised $2,200 for both projects. Bailey has also partnered with the #yegsemicolon festival, as well as the Plugged In Community Centre, to help more youth with mental health issues.
Bilan Abdulkadir, Brooks, Grasslands Regional Division
Bilan is from Brooks, Alberta, and is the child of Somali immigrants. She speaks both English and Somali and is passionate about writing. She volunteers on a regular basis for the SPEC Association for Children and Families, as well as with the Global Village Centre. When Bilan was 12 years old, she traveled to Europe all by herself. As a first generation Canadian, she is happy to connect immigrant and Canadian perspectives for the Minister’s Youth Council.
Breagh Mason, Red Deer, Red Deer Catholic Regional Division
Breagh attends school in Red Deer and is involved in athletics, academics, the arts and activism. In addition to her commitment to sports teams and her studies, she volunteers at her local hospital every week, has helped organize a food drive and enjoys participating in her school’s drama program. She is a big believer in the value of patience, persistence and resilience.
Caelyn Basaraba, Whitecourt, Northern Gateway Regional Division
Caelyn grew up in rural Alberta and lives in Whitecourt. She has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, and she has used her talent to teach self-defence skills to younger children. She is a member of her school’s student council, an after-school child-care worker and a pianist who has played music for residents at local seniors’ lodges. Caelyn’s volunteer work includes taking photos for her school’s yearbook, organizing school-wide spirit events, volunteering with the local Boys and Girls club and mentoring youth who are dealing with difficult life circumstances to make positive life choices. She also serves as president of her school’s Humanitarian Society, where she organizes bi-weekly pizza sales to raise money for an orphanage in Uganda that her school helps to support.
Christopher Polowy, Edmonton, Edmonton Public School Board
Christopher grew up in Edmonton, but he has spent several summers working for his grandmother on her farm. He is accomplished in Judo and Japanese Jujitsu, and he plays saxophone in his school band. In addition to serving as an Ambassador for the Stollery Foundation’s Youth Network, he curates his own photography blog. As a culinary hobbyist, Christopher’s soup and grilled cheese sandwich combo has attained legendary status with his family.
Damon Van de Graaf, Lethbridge, Lethbridge School District
Damon is a politically involved student who attends school in Lethbridge. He recognizes the crucial role politics plays in shaping how society functions. He has attended Montessori school and public school, and he will be joining the International Baccalaureate program this fall. Every year he helps organize and run a block party on his street and prides himself on his ability to organize information.
Daniel Felipe Tirado-Ribero, Medicine Hat, Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education
Daniel attends high school in Medicine Hat. He has always had a passion for social studies, politics, current events and social justice. Due to his belief in social justice, at the early age of nine he lobbied his city council advocating for recreation in his neighbourhood. In 2016, he was recognized as a Leader of Tomorrow, along with other young people in his community. In the past, he volunteered to support his school’s breakfast program and has helped organize fundraisers for the Me to We program. He has served as team leader for his local youth group, and helped plan gatherings and retreats. Daniel has practiced Taekwondo for the last five years and has recently achieved his black belt.
Daniel Syed-Chaudhry, Chestermere, Calgary Board of Education
Daniel attends Western Canada High School and enjoys travelling, listening to music, photography and playing sports. Moreover, he is an active participant and mentor in many extracurricular clubs, such as debate, speech and Model United Nations. He has also organized and led workshops on effective studying and public speaking. As the Workshop Director for Operation Med School Calgary 2018, Daniel wishes to inspire a new generation of leaders and pioneers through the enthusiastic promotion of medicine. A devoted volunteer, he assists with preparing and serving meals, as well as assembling food hampers, for the underprivileged at The Mustard Seed; building homes with Habitat for Humanity; and serving his local Muslim community as a youth co-ordinator. His passion for advocacy and education has enabled him to serve on the Minister’s Youth Council, and he aims to improve education for all Alberta students.
Declan Cayanga, St. Albert, St. Albert Public School District
Declan is a first-generation Canadian from St. Albert. He plays in the St. Albert Youth Basketball League, belongs to a Judo club, plays the piano and enjoys fly-fishing in his spare time. He is a provincial gold medalist in Judo, and has also won wrestling medals at the Alberta Winter Games. He volunteers at his local pool to teach young children how to swim; as a member of his school’s student council, he helps organize school events and fundraisers. He has traveled to Asia and the United Kingdom.
Dustin Edgi, Edmonton, Edmonton Public School Board
Dustin attends Amiskwaciy Academy in Edmonton. He describes himself as a “second teacher” because of his willingness to help people share perspectives with one another – especially when they disagree. He likes to help people come out of their comfort zone and is eager to share his knowledge of the legacy of residential schools.
Emerald Robinson, Sherwood Park, Elk Island Public Schools
Emerald enjoys a variety of sports – from swimming and dance, to handball and fencing – and loves everything from Batman to Sudoku. She attends school in Sherwood Park and spends a great deal of time helping her grandparents and babysitting children. She holds the gold title in her district’s speech competition and has honed her public speaking skills with her school’s “Panda TV.” She has also won multiple “Student of Character” awards for her contributions as a respectful, responsible, kind and helpful student.
Fajar Khan, Fort McMurray, Fort McMurray Public School District
Fajar is starting Grade 12 in Fort McMurray. She is proud of her diverse culture and heritage, and she has worked with her local Mosque to arrange girls’ sports days and gaming nights. She is an active member of her school and participates in many of the clubs they have, including UNICEF, Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), and Students Participating Actively and Responsibly in the Community (SPARC).
Gabriella Scaman, Spruce Grove, Parkland School Division
Gabriella is a French immersion student who attends school in Spruce Grove. She is a strong communicator who is passionate about equality, animal welfare, the environment and youth social justice. She plays multiple musical instruments and highly values musical education. Gabriella is a very active person who enjoys participating in dance, track and more. In addition to volunteering at a local senior’s residence, she also volunteers with the Edmonton Area Land Trust, her church and other organizations. Each year, she has organized a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders that has raised over $2,000 to date. Gabriella is a driven individual who loves to create change and will stop at nothing until a positive impact has been made.
J’Lyn Ramsankar, Sherwood Park, Elk Island Catholic Separate Regional Division
J’Lyn attends school in Sherwood Park. She has explored a wide variety of interests and skill development opportunities. She is a music lover who plays the drums, trombone and cello, and she enjoys following music culture. J’Lyn loves sports and has experienced varying levels of play in many sports, including soccer, volleyball, badminton, dancing and hockey. She is passionate about mental health issues and student well-being, and has done presentations on the topic at many schools. About a year ago, J’Lyn had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand and Australia, where she attended the Global Education Leaders Partnership event.
Jennifer Belanger, Cold Lake, Northern Lights School Division
A major part of Jennifer’s life revolves around acting, and one of her most recent roles was Dracula’s Van Helsing. She has a great deal of experience as a dancer and musician (clarinet and bass), but she has fallen in love with the thrill of storytelling for an audience. In addition to regular volunteer work with her high school’s leadership group, Jennifer has participated in the Halloween for Hunger event, helped organize a winter clothing drive and helped raise over $2,500 for the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre for Women. This past April, she was proud to travel from her home in Cold Lake to take part in the Vimy Ridge memorial services in France.
Jeremy Marten, Fort Chipewyan, Northland School Division
Jeremy comes to the Minister’s Youth Council from Fort Chipewyan. He is a strong hockey player who enjoys coaching younger kids, and he contributes to his community by participating in community clean-up events, treaty days and hand game tournaments. He recently helped plan a fundraiser to support his hockey team’s trip to the Alberta Native Hockey Provincial Championship tournament.
Julianna Davis, Lethbridge, Conseil scolaire FrancoSud
Julianna is a queer student who goes to an all-Francophone school in Lethbridge. She enjoys expressing herself through art – her series of Queerious Dinosaurs have been shown in an art gallery and used to raise money for Outreach, an organization that helps queer youth in Alberta. Julianna has also organized other fundraisers, such as a Christmas bake sale to raise funds for a school trip, where she decorated 50 gingerbread cookie houses.
Laura Somers, Calgary, Calgary Catholic School District
As a high school student in Calgary, Laura Somers has a passion for public speaking, writing and researching. She is an advocate for women’s equality in all aspects of life, including fair wages and education. Working with her student council, she assisted in the development of a charter to help guide the council’s work. Laura has participated in dramatic arts since she was young, and she loves being actively involved in her neighborhood, including helping with after-school child supervision and volunteering as a summer camp counsellor.
Lauren Voisin, Calgary, Calgary Board of Education
Lauren is a young entrepreneur from Calgary who started her first business when she was eight years old. She enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for S.T.E.A.M.focused activities such as robotics, wearable technology, coding and project-based learning by leading events at schools and other venues. Lauren has volunteered with Canada Learning Code and Telus Spark for many years. She is passionate about inspiring others and has spoken at many conferences, including Maker Faire, the UN Gender Equality Summit and The Walrus Talks. In addition, Lauren enjoys aerial dance, opera and martial arts.
Leo Huang, Calgary, Foundations for the Future Charter Academy
Leo is a second-generation immigrant from China, a math enthusiast and a self-proclaimed perfectionist who loves to put positivity in everyone’s day. He has two years’ experience tutoring younger colleagues in addition to organizing events for his school and church, such as Career Days and Bible camps. As an avid guitarist and badminton player, he loves to participate in extracurricular activities and be part of the community. Leo hopes that he’ll be able to bring a positive change to all Alberta students by sharing his unique perspective within this council.
Liam Lorrain, Red Deer, Conseil scolaire Centre-Nord
Liam lives in Red Deer and is bilingual in French and English. He is a strong musician who believes that music plays a big role in education, and he has been part of the Red Deer Royals Marching Show Band for several years. Liam enjoys volunteering with events like the winter Red Deer Carnival, and he is currently part of a committee that is looking at retaining French-language high school students who might otherwise switch to larger schools.
Nalyn Tindall, Camrose, Battle River Regional Division
Nalyn attends school in Camrose, where she enjoys music, sports and drama. She is a member of her school’s concert band and plays many instruments, but her favorite is the ukulele, which she taught herself. She loves participating in triathlons, and has qualified for the Alberta Summer Games. She has also played on basketball, volleyball and badminton teams. Nalyn is also very active in drama and has attended Artstrek for two summers.
Olivia Sekulic, Rycroft, Peace Wapiti School Division
Olivia lives in a rural area and goes to a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school in Spirit River. She juggles part-time work with her school and extracurricular participation. She also enjoys playing the violin and writing. She participates in her local Jurisdictional Student Engagement Team (JSET) team and serves as vice-president of the 4H club. Olivia serves by assisting with garbage cleanup and food hamper sorting, and she has volunteered at the local hospital for two years.
Tadhg Ho, Sherwood Park, Elk Island Public Schools
Tadhg is a transgender student from Sherwood Park. He has attended the Queer Prom three times and has been heavily involved in Bev Facey Community High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance, where he led a poster campaign to address issues of racism and homophobia. His other volunteer and charity work includes raising money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the food bank and youth housing facilities. Tadhg is part of his school’s Model UN club; this year he represented Libya on the topic of technological advances and indigenous peoples’ rights.
Ursella Khan, Red Deer, Red Deer Public School District
Ursella is currently living in Red Deer but has also lived in Grande Prairie. She was born in Canada; however, her grandparents come from Pakistan, which provides her with perspectives from both cultures. Ursella has been involved with initiatives to get local business to employ young people of diverse backgrounds, and she is passionate about making her community welcoming and inclusive for her peers and newcomers to Canada.
Vivica Addo, Edmonton, Edmonton Catholic School District
Vivica is a national, medal-winning wrestler from Edmonton whose athletic skills also span basketball, volleyball, soccer and badminton. She was heavily involved in student leadership at her junior high, where she helped create activities and fundraisers for students. She helps younger students with their reading skills and is experienced at organizing flash mob activities (so you never know when she’ll burst into spontaneous choreography). Vivica lives with Lupus but doesn’t let it stop her from being active – you can’t stop moving when you’re the youngest of six children in the family!
Zoë Huffer, Canmore, Canadian Rockies Regional Division
Zoë is a self-professed nerd, writer and artist from Canmore who also enjoys stilt walking and archery. She has done most of her schooling in French immersion, and she has provided tutoring and mentorship for math and science students for the past two years. Zoë participated on her school’s Science Olympics team this year, and she takes time away from working on her first novel to organize events for her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance.