Dominica National Youth Parliament: day before first meeting
With less than 24 hours away from Dominica’s historical hosting of the National Youth Parliament(NYP), the morale is “high”. This is according to Chairperson of the National Youth Parliament, Mr. Phael Lander, as he commented on the activities that have happened over the last couple of weeks leading up to the First Meeting of the First Session of the NYP.
Similar to the other youth parliaments hosted in Dominica under the tutelage of Speaker Emeritus, Alix Boyd-Knight; which were highly spirited debates that sought to commemorate Commonwealth Youth Day activities, this parliament which will be hosted for the first time under the auspices of the National Youth Council of Dominica will seek to do something just a bit differently.
Chair of the NYP, Mr. Lander, stated that he is more than “grateful for the opportunity to serve the nation as a honourable member of the House of Assembly” and sees this as another right step by the NYCD in facilitating youth participation and involvement at a higher level.
“This event contributes as a significant step towards youth empowerment. I am indeed honoured to serve my country at the highest possible level as a youth and furthermore, I am increasingly humbled and honoured to have been elected as Chairman of the Youth Parliament. I stand resolved to represent the interest of the members of the parliament and will seek to promote the interests of the youth of Dominica through the National Youth Parliament. I encourage the Dominican public to tune in to the First Sitting of the First session of the National Youth Parliament 2022/2023 cohort, this coming Wednesday and Thursday the 23rd and 24th of March, 2022.”
In an address given by the President of the National Youth Council of Dominica, Ashma McDougall during the NYP’s February 26, 2022 Press Briefing held at the House of Assembly, McDougall noted, “
The Youth Parliament is not a new initiative – in fact the Youth Parliament Debates previously organised by the House of Assembly, commemorating Commonwealth Youth Day Activities, have highlighted great discourse among our students. However, what is noteable to this cohort of youth parliamentarians is that this will be the First Sitting of the National Youth Parliament. These parliamentarians have been appointed for a one-year tenure supported by NYC’s institutional framework, which is outlined in our recently revised Constitution. Despite the constitution making provisions for this branch to be established – in over 30 years, this is the first year, and the first executive that will induct a sitting Youth Parliament. It is our hope that in the 2023 call, the appointment will be for two years to the NYP and we will attract a larger pool of candidates.
The 31 Youth Parliamentarians are devised into two groups – proposing and opposing. On the side of the Proposition, you will find members such as Leader and Deputy Leader of the group Hanif Gregoire and Ameka Cognet as well as President of the NYCD, Ashma McDougall and Chairman of the NYCD’s General-Assembly, Ashfred Norris.
Leader of the proposing team, Mr. Gregoire expressed his gratitude to the NYCD for this initiative.
I must say I am very elated and humbled to be a part of this historic event and I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to the National Youth Council of Dominica for this initiative which I think is one that has been long overdue. My reason for joining or participating in this NYP is firstly, I will say that, I saw the great need to serve my people; to be a voice for the voiceless and also to represent the youth in my community and the youth of the country by extension. I think it’s a great opportunity for the youth to be heard and a great opportunity for the youth to be seen and empowered. I think the youth deserve more platforms like these to voice their opinions and to be part and parcel of policy decisions and sharing their opinions and giving feedback on such decisions.
Leader of the opposing team, Lakeyia Joseph has noted that it is her “humble and genuine pleasure” to be a part of this National Youth Parliament.
The voices of the youth are being echoed by the youth parliamentarians, in a very powerful and profound way, and that, in itself, is remarkable and commendable. The process has been a very rewarding one; a lot learned, a lot shared and meaningful linkages formed. This coming Wednesday and Thursday will be for nothing less than one for the historical archives. The youth parliamentarians are coming full throttle, all gas, no brakes! We are coming to articulate our points and bring across the ideas of the youth in the most creative and effective way possible. To the NYCD and the government of Dominica, on behalf of myself, my team and all the other parliamentarians, thank you!
Since the induction ceremony, the Youth Parliamentarians have definitely been on quite the journey. This journey has included training sessions with highly esteemed professionals and politicians such as a recent retreat which the Hon. Prime Minister hosted for the 2022-2023 Cohort at Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski, Dominica. The session included presentations from the Hon. Prime Minister himself, Barbadian lawyer, politician and diplomat Elizabeth Thompson, Minister for Trade Hon. Ian Dougalas, the Speaker of the House of Assembly and as well a special appearance by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley via Zoom. Many of the Junior Parliamentarians have noted the excitement and overall satisfaction with the NYP explaining that it has surely met their expectations and exceeded that of others.
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