The Southern Gazette - - Community -

Gina Grat­tan, 22, first dipped her toes in po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism while study­ing sus­tain­abil­ity and English at the Univer­sity of King's Col­lege in Hal­i­fax.

“I did a lot of or­ga­niz­ing around free tu­ition and ed­u­ca­tion and so that kind of led me to get in­volved with the NDP, be­cause ob­vi­ously, that's one of their key be­liefs, that ed­u­ca­tion should be free,” Grat­tan said.

“That's kind of how I made the segue into pol­i­tics, be­cause it's kind of a tan­gi­ble way to make a dif­fer­ence and to stand up . . . for the val­ues I be­lieve in.”

Grat­tan’s job as a vol­un­teer co-or­di­na­tor is to get the ball rolling ahead of the writ pe­riod and cre­ate a base of vol­un­teers for NDP can­di­date Chris­tine Saulnier’s cam­paign.

As a stu­dent cam­paign­ing in a stu­dent town, Grat­tan said she finds it easy to con­nect with other young peo­ple about is­sues that af­fect her gen­er­a­tion.

“When we're go­ing door to door the things we're hear­ing the most is stu­dents are buried in debt and some­thing def­i­nitely needs to change.”

Another area Grat­tan said her peers are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about is cli­mate change, some­thing she thinks is driv­ing a new era of po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment for young peo­ple.

“The youth do want to get in­volved ... we ac­tu­ally had a cou­ple of high school­ers who just ran­domly showed up to vol­un­teer one day, I was like ‘this is in­cred­i­ble,’” she said.

Grat­tan said she be­lieves low­er­ing the vot­ing age from 18 to 16 — some­thing the NDP has pushed for — would sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove youth po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment.

“I do think that we're kind of see­ing how we're be­ing af­fected more and more di­rectly than maybe in the past ... I think that it­self is like a change within the past cou­ple of years and I think that's pro­pel­ling youth vot­ers to push for things,” she said.

— An­drea Gunn

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