How does the Youth Council work?

Just as Lyndia promised in her post a few weeks ago, members of the City of Edmonton Youth Council are going to start blogging. I’ll be the first to post about my experiences with the Youth Council, in particular about my position as Youth Council Chair and how I work with the General Assembly.

Although the majority of the Youth Council’s work is done in separate subcommittees (which will be discussed in later posts), the heart of the City of Edmonton Youth Council (CEYC) is the General Assembly (GA). The General Assembly is made up of all the members of CEYC (currently about 35 volunteers) who meet the first Wednesday of every month to hear updates from the Exec about the goings-on of the different subcommittees, as well as participate in social events and/or educational presentations and discuss issues concerning the GA as a whole.

Edmonton Youth Council Chair Sean Mitra as the MC for the Streets Speak event at City Hall, Feb. 2010.

MC for the Streets Speak mural series event at City Hall, February 16. 2010.

Contrary to what you might expect, as Chair I do not manage the agenda of the GA meetings. Rather, the meetings are run by a speaker chosen from the GA, a position that is rotated to a new GA member every month.

At first glance, the role of Youth Council Chair seems to be straightforward. In practise, however, the position of chair is rather open-ended. When I first ran for Chair in the summer of 2009, I was aware of the position’s official duties, which included planning and coordinating executive meetings as well as providing leadership for the Youth Council as a whole.

I soon found, however, that it was up to me to decide exactly what ‘providing leadership’ meant. The previous CEYC Chair had chosen to focus on heading the Homelessness Subcommittee. I however, felt that it was more important to allow my excellent executive to complete their tasks as they saw fit. I thus have chosen to provide a supporting role, sitting on three of our six subcommittees.

CEYC Transportation Subcommittee

CEYC Transportation Subcommittee

And therein lies the most important duty of the Chair, in my opinion: regardless of the level of direct control the Chair chooses in exert in any given subcommittee, it is absolutely essential for the Chair to provide support and direction for the Youth Council as a whole. This can range from providing feedback for the executive to fulfilling the duties of the paid Coordinator when he or she is unavailable. This year, I felt that it was critical that CEYC improve the overall participation and attendance of the GA. This is a responsibility shared by the entire executive but the Chair needs to be especially aware of any problems facing CEYC at any given time. As the head of the City of Edmonton Youth Council, the position of Chair is absolutely vital.

Edmonton Youth Council Chair Sean Mitra accepting the Youth Week 2009 Proclamation from Councillor Iveson.

Accepting the Youth Week 2009 Proclamation from Councillor Iveson

It has been an absolute pleasure to serve as the Chair of the City of Edmonton Youth Council so far, and I look forward to the rest of my term!

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About the Author
Sean Mitra
Sean is the current Chair of the City of Edmonton Youth Council. In addition to his work with the Youth Council, Sean is studying at the University of Alberta, and is fond of video games, Kung Fu, and long fight scenes on the beach.
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