This is the fourth in our series of stories celebrating the outstanding accomplishments of youth in our community. These inspirational young adults are enriching our lives with their passion and commitment to the betterment of society.
Sky was unavailable for an interview when we first contacted him as he was working at the Gulf Islands Centre for Ecological Learning’s Environmental Leadership Apprenticeship Program. Of course, we weren’t surprised, so we arranged to meet him a short while later at the University of Victoria. Sky was about to move into residence to begin his first year of undergraduate studies with the goal of majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies.
Sky was born in Ontario and moved to Mayne Island (population ~1,000) with his family when he was 5 years old. There he began his schooling at Mayne Island School. Sky’s family had initially only planned to live on Mayne Island for a few years while his mother practiced as the island doctor. But they soon fell in love with the beauty and serenity of the Gulf Islands which they now call home. Sky graduated with honours from Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) in 2014. There he was involved in numerous extra-curricular activities, including Leadership, Student Council, the Environmental Group and the School Planning Council. Sky notes that Amy Cousins, the sponsor teacher for the school’s Environmental Group and Rob Griffith, the sponsor teacher for the school’s Leadership Group have been particularly inspirational to him.
While at school Sky has honed his leadership skills in numerous ways. He undertook an Independent Directed Study in Leadership, focusing on the fundamental skills that are required to become a successful leader and putting the knowledge to use. He was on the Varsity Rowing Team in high school, competing at a high level and mentoring novice rowers. He also participated in school and community theatre as a Stage Manager, Lighting Technician and Sound Technician.
Two significant life experiences preceded Sky’s passion for environmental and social activism. He and his father hiked the Juan de Fuca Trail and subsequently the West Coast Trail. These two adventures focused his passion for environmental stewardship and inspired him with an overwhelming responsibility to “do something as I want my grandkids to be able to see the same things I’ve seen.” His motivation comes from the notion that future generations might not be able to experience nature the same way he has. “I can’t NOT think about this” he says. And when asked what frustrates him, he quickly responded, “kids my age who don’t care.”
I’ve interacted with many thousands of students during my twenty five years as a university faculty member. Yet I cannot remember ever meeting a first year student who has had such a clear vision of his or her future career path. Sky knows exactly where he wants to be and exactly what he needs to do to get there. His life goal is to be a politician – he sees this as the only way to effect change. But first he plans to train as a lawyer specializing in aboriginal and environmental law.
Sky already has extensive political experience, both as a Member of the 85th British Columbia Youth Parliament (BCYP) and as Deputy Premier and Regional Secretary of the 22nd Vancouver Island Youth Parliament in 2014. For the upcoming 86th British Columbia Youth Parliament in December, Sky will serve as Provincial Secretary and Minister of the Island. He says he has learned much from Youth Parliament and is dedicated to fulfilling their motto, “Youth Serving Youth”. His Teacher at GISS, Dean Crouse, encouraged him to participate and his attendance was sponsored by Islands Trust. Sky is proud to be associated with BCYP, a non-partisan youth service organization that also runs a variety of community projects throughout the year.
Sky was one of the organizers for the “Defend Our Future” youth-lead event that took place earlier this year. Meetings were arranged across British Columbia with twenty Members of the Legislative Assembly. Sky attended the meeting at my Oak Bay-Gordon Head constituency office where he spoke eloquently and passionately about the need to uphold and commit to meeting British Columbia’s legislated 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets.
If you didn’t know that Sky had just graduated from high school, you would have never guessed it from simply chatting with him. His maturity, sense of purpose and commanding presence convey wisdom far beyond his years. He is committed to providing youth leadership through his skills in organization, team work, and communication. And he will continue to ensure that today’s decision makers understand the future consequences of their decisions on today’s youth — the decision makers of tomorrow. Undoubtedly, Sky will be one of them.
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