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Honourable Speaker, today I’d like to speak to you about the importance of the youth voice in our society.

1904199_708315912571497_2570728701293561094_nAnd I’d like to illustrate this by focusing specifically on the efforts of a remarkable group of students from Glenlyon-Norfolk School who are being featured in an upcoming documentary entitled Child of Nature, produced by Enigma Films under contract from Warner Brothers.

Madame Speaker, sharks have been present in our oceans for over 400 million years. They have survived the Earth’s five great extinction events including times when up to 80% of all marine species were wiped out. But they are struggling now in the anthropocene, the 6th great extinction event, because of a cruel and wasteful process known as shark finning.

In February 2012, Rob Stewart, Director of the film Sharkwater gave a powerful presentation to Glenlyon-Norfolk School. He inspired and motivated the students in the room. They became determined to do what they could to make people aware of the plight of the world’s shark population.

427386_263375030398923_926336261_nTogether with their teacher, Mrs. Margaret McCullough, these students set up a not for profit known as Fin Free Victoria.

Madame speaker, this incredibly passionate and articulate group of young students has worked tirelessly for several years.

They’ve visited numerous municipalities and businesses in Victoria, Vancouver, Richmond and elsewhere on Vancouver Island. They’ve given presentations to restaurant groups; they’ve collected signatures on petitions; they’ve conducted media interviews; they’ve participated in press conferences; they’ve met with many municipal councillors as well as provincial and federal politicians.

And at all times, they’ve done so with deepest respect for, and sensitivity of, British Columbia’s diversified cultural heritage.

Madame Speaker, this group of young students, has been so effective that shark fin soup has disappeared from the menus of all Victoria restaurants. Fin-Free stickers are proudly displayed instead. The same is true for a growing number of establishments in Richmond and Vancouver, thanks in part to the collaborative efforts of Fin Free Victoria.

Honourable speaker, it gives me hope and inspiration to see the youth of today so engaged in such important societal issues.

While we in this room ultimately represent the decision-making generation, it is their generation that will have to live the consequences of our decisions.

Each and every one of us should reflect upon that from time to time.


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