A former Melfort resident is one of the new additions to the Prime Minister’s Youth Council.
Gabe Senecal, who graduated from Melfort & Unit Comprehensive Collegiate in 2011, is one of 26 members who will represent young Canadians on the council.
The new members were announced Jan. 25, but Senecal found out a month ago.
“It was quite the Christmas present,” said Senecal, who now works in Greater Vancouver.
“The application process started in August,” he said. “I saw the first cohort of Prime Minister’s Youth Council members who were announced in September and I [thought] these people are really, really impressive and super qualified.
“It was a huge shock and an honour to be selected and to be on the council with all these other amazing, impressive young Canadians.”
The details of the council haven’t been nailed down yet, but Senecal said he’ll be a member for a year or two and will meet in person with the other members every few months.
Senecal was excited after his first day of meetings.
“I couldn’t fall asleep the first night after our meeting this week because I was too excited, I was too giddy. It was a very long day, 14 hours of meetings.”
Tackling the big issues
An online biography of each council member shows a diversity of interests. A New Brunswick student is passionate about improving the lives of homeless people. A new mother in Ontario is interested in anti-bullying and mental health.
Senecal’s biography notes his passion for “bridging the divide between urban and rural Canadians.”
It also notes his interest in community, equality, justice and reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians.
“We need to figure out how we can address the inequalities that Indigenous Canadians face in many ways. I think it’s a national conversation that needs to be had sooner rather than later. The term reconciliation comes to mind and is an extremely important topic going forward, especially in Saskatchewan, which has a high Indigenous population.”
Senecal told the Review that growing up in a rural community has shaped his perspective as a young Canadian.
“The issues that face people in rural areas of the country and rural Saskatchewan are vastly different than the issues that face people in urban areas. There are often a lack of resources in rural areas, there’s just fewer opportunities and less opportunity to grow ourselves and develop ourselves.
“Rural areas have different sorts of opportunities and different weaknesses, but we can always work to improve them.”
Senecal said he has always tried to make a difference.
“I was really attracted to be able to participate in something that really examines what problems Canada may face and what opportunities Canada may have.”