Nanaimo’s Shantel Beute is set to take a seat in the House of Commons.
“It’s going to be a huge deal,” said the 22-year-old Vancouver Island University student. “I’m really, really excited about it.”
Next year for the first time, all 338 seats in the House of Commons in Ottawa will be filled by young women from across the country to mark the 100-year anniversary of some women getting the right to vote in federal elections and to spark engagement in politics.
The event is part of the Daughters of the Vote initiative by Equal Voice, an organization aiming to see more women elected to office. Women representing every federal riding in Canada have been chosen to take part, including Beute, who’ll represent Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
An event was hosted by Speaker Linda Reid at the B.C. legislature in Victoria last week for B.C.’s 42 delegates, who’ll travel to Ottawa in March. Thoren Hudyma, co-chairwoman of Equal Voice B.C., said it will be a “powerful statement.” But the delegates will do more than sit in seats – they’ll also have the opportunity to meet with members of parliament and discuss issues important to them.
Currently, 26 per cent of all members of parliament are women, low considering women compose half the population in the country, according to Hudyma.
“What we want to do is give [the women] as much exposure to Ottawa and access to elected officials so that it brings them that much closer to being engaged and involved and elected within the system,” she said.
Beute said it’s an honour to be chosen for Daughters of the Vote. She believes women should be fully representative in all levels of government and is now thinking she could run for office in the future. She’d like to follow Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson, whom she commends for work advocating on behalf of women in her riding.
“I believe women bring light to a lot of issues that aren’t necessarily going to have the same understanding if there’s not more women at the table – that’s for all different types of policy, if we’re looking at energy policy, aboriginal relations, if we’re looking at child welfare,” said Beute.