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Cochrane teens take their message to Parliament Hill

Two Cochrane youths were chosen to travel to Ottawa in October to talk to federal officials about issues facing Canadian youth.
Zach Cordero, Natonya Fedeyko and Alysha Fenton on Parliament Hill in October.

Two Cochrane youths were chosen to travel to Ottawa in October to talk to federal officials about issues facing Canadian youth.

Zach Cordero and Nat Fedeyko were among 10 youths selected from across Canada for BGC's Youth, in connection to the Lead UP 2.0 program. Fedeyko, 16, is a grade 11 student at Bow Valley High, and Cordero is also 16, and goes to St. Timothy High School.

Out of 700 BGC clubs nationwide, BGC Cochrane was one of just 28 selected to host the new Lead UP 2.0 program.

Lead UP 2.0 provides youth with opportunities to engage in service initiatives that will address community needs, encouraging them to develop life and work skills, self-confidence, and self-efficacy, while discovering new opportunities. The program engages under-represented youth in meaningful service and promotes youth civic engagement.

Reached in Ottawa while they toured Parliament Hill, the two leaders-in-training were able to chat only briefly as they headed to their next appointment.

One of their visits was to Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards’ office, where Fedeyko pitched the idea of 24-hour houses where youth can go if they are facing temporary housing issues such as being kicked out.

Fedeyko’s first impression of Question Period was mixed.

“It was a lot of back and forth arguing. It was cool to see in person, though,” she said.

The notoriously rude behaviour in Question Period, where MPs spend as much time shouting insults as they do in debate, was in full view to the Cochrane students.

“They talk over each other, laugh at each other,” she said.

In visits with three MPs, Fedeyko said they were selling the Lead UP 2.0 program.

“We were pitching what we think youth needs most to improve our community,” she said.

Cordero said he wasn’t terribly impressed with the MPs’ behaviour in Question Period but saw it as a necessary evil in the pursuit of democracy.

“It’s messy, but perhaps that what democracy should be about,” he said.

“Opposing viewpoints – that’s a healthy democracy. Everyone can still get together and follow the traditions, while still maintaining their own opinions. It’s healthy.”

He said that as a result of his visit to Parliament Hill, he now is reconsidering his future career plans.

“This trip has given me a different perspective on what I want in my future – I’m genuinely considering going into politics,” Cordero said. “It seemed so inaccessible before.”

For more information on BGC's Lead UP 2.0, and the Dare to Dream mentorship program go to

Howard May

About the Author: Howard May

Howard was a journalist with the Calgary Herald and with the Abbotsford Times in BC, where he won a BC/Yukon Community Newspaper Association award for best outdoor writing.
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