When I was in grade eleven, I had my first opportunity to learn about provincial politics, from a behind the scenes experience with Youth Parliament of Manitoba. YPM is an organization that brings together young people in our province and immerses them in a 4 day long experiential learning adventure inside Manitoba’s legislature to explore the process of government bills, amendments, oppositions and speeches ‘in the house’. As part of each new YPM member’s participation, they are offered 5 minutes in the MB Legislature to address their peers – explaining and introducing themselves and a ministry of their own creation. When I was privileged enough to attend this event at the age of 17, I spoke for the very first time in the Manitoba legislature on the importance of – and introduced myself as the Minister of – Kindness.
Why at such a young age, did I feel like kindness was needed within our government processes, and governance in general? The answer today may seem obvious considering how mean spirited politics can be. I was also in army cadets at the time, on student council at St John’s High School and was volunteering in choir and theatre. Each of these educational and voluntary experiences provided me with an opportunity to better myself – and learn about process. Some of this I enjoyed, because of the structure and the transparency. Other times I witnessed and participated in some processes that left me scratching my head. I was scratching my head because there was an absence of heart and kindness in the way many leaders carried out their work – especially in government.
As an adult, I have become very involved in our community and even have engaged with the AYO Politix team at various levels in provincial politics. I was awarded the YPM Alumni Achievement Award a couple years back and it provided me an opportunity to address the newest batch of youth parliamentarians – on the topic of child welfare. I was very blunt and direct in my address to the assembly – but remembered what it was like being 17 and discussing kindness in a place where there seemed to be an absence of it. It felt good. I felt like I found something that the world desperately needed and named it.
Today is United Way of Winnipeg’s Conscious Kindness #KindWPG activities encouraging our city to go out of their way to be kind. Ever since my experience with the Ministry of Kindness I have been inspired by the likes of THE KINDNESS CREW from BC, the generosity I see each day in the village and the personal experiences I have in giving and receiving random acts of kindness. I challenge you on this day to share your stories of kindness – our examples are always much stronger than our words.
PS – deliberate acts of kindness are better