I’m smiling at my computer right now, as I reflect on today. It was the day of our mock election, and I couldn’t be more pleased at how it went.
After Zahra’s voice lesson this morning, we dashed over to the Paul-Émile Lépine Community Centre to set up the room (voting booth, polling desk, campaign posters, etc.) and run through the campaign speeches and songs before everyone arrived. As both the French and English school boards were striking today, we had a great group of kids from both school boards as well as homeschoolers. When they all arrived, we got started with an introduction to why and how we vote.
Then we moved onto campaigning. Five children, ranging in age from 8 to 11, were our candidates: Charlie the Raven (A.J. Argento), Desneiges the Polar Bear (Zahra Yagoub), Max the Walrus (Kieran Cabana), Neevee the Caribou (Ainsley Cabana), and Sam the Wolf (Gianluca Buonvino). I was so proud of all of them for their public speaking skills! The speeches were given in English and French, each one describing why that particular animal would be a great choice for our group’s mascot. Some of the children even dressed up. After each speech, there was a campaign song, and Zahra and I put on a show. She’s quite the performer—not a bit of stage fright—and I had flashbacks to my childhood days of putting on shows for family and friends. It was so much fun.
Friends were taking pictures and video of the event—and so was a journalist! I had shot out a press release yesterday but hadn’t heard back. Lo and behold, it worked! It was pretty exciting to have press coverage of our mock election.
After the campaigning period, we paused for a yummy potluck lunch. The candidates mingled, and then we called everyone back to order to start the voting period. Three kids worked the polling station. The kids got in line to vote, and I passed out election-themed activity booklets to keep them busy before and after they voted. As they approached the poll clerk, they showed their ID cards, took their ballot behind the voter screen, marked it and put it in the ballot box. The parents also voted, and then our Deputy Returning Officer dumped out the ballot box and read aloud the votes while the poll clerk tallied them. It was a close race, and Sam the Wolf won by just one vote! The Returning Officer filled in the Writ of Election and returned it to me. I presented Sam with a certificate of his victory.
We celebrated by walking over to the park behind the community centre and playing for an hour or so before calling it a day. On the car ride home, Zahra said, “That was a really great day.”
When I requested this voting unit from Elections Canada, I had no idea how detailed it would be, complete with all the quality materials that allowed us to put together a super fun, educational event for kids from three to eleven years old. When it came, with posters and a CD, a voting booth and ballot box, ballots, writ of election, voters’ list, etc., I was determined to put the materials to good use with a bigger group of kids. I’m so glad it worked out the way it did!
A BIG thank-you to everyone who participated. It would not have been the same without you.
Thank you to our candidates and election officials for putting on a great show.
Thank you to all the kids, big and small, for your attentiveness and interest in the election process.
Thank you to everyone for the great lunch spread. No one left hungry.
Thank you to Nathalie, for translating all the speeches into French.
Thank you to everyone for helping with the set-up and clean-up.
And congratulations, Sam the Wolf, for your victory.