Kate O'Connor envisions a greener future for B.C., and she's not going to wait for someone else to make it happen.
Having just turned 18 years old, the Green Party candidate for Saanich South is the youngest candidate in provincial history. Stepping into politics is a move that makes sense to her, considering decisions made today will affect her generation's future.
"Running a young candidate gets young people involved," she said.
"We need a diversity of perspectives including the youth perspective if we are going to make the best possible decisions for all British Columbians."
O'Connor is running a platform focused on climate change action, the affordability crisis, food insecurity and better mental health care. She wants to see the legal voting age lowered to the age of 16 and access to universal childcare.
In Saanich South, she'll be running against the NDP incumbent Lana Popham who served as minister of agriculture until the election was called this fall. An NDP candidate has been elected in the riding in the last four elections. The B.C. Liberal candidate in the riding is Rishi Sharma.
O'Connor grew up in a household where politics and current events were regularly discussed, she said, but she became interested in getting involved in politics after U.S. President Donald Trump was elected in 2016.
She realized what a "huge effect" that had on the world and noticed something was missing in the political landscape: young people.
O'Connor began volunteering with the Green Party, most recently with leader Sonia Furstenau's campaign this past summer.
She found her place in a party focused on "collaborative leadership" and that has a sense of urgency when it comes to addressing the impacts of climate change, she said.
"There's this cycle where young people are criticized and blamed for not being involved in politics and engaged in politics, and then when they stand up and try to be more involved in politics, they're told that they're too young and they're not serious," O'Connor said.
"I'm trying to break that cycle."
She thinks it's working — O'Connor says she's hearing from young people who haven't followed or engaged in politics before because they didn't feel their concerns were represented.
Her platform focus isn't exclusively on young people, but on issues that impact everyone in B.C., she added.
"People are often surprised and underestimate me, I think especially because I'm a young woman," O'Connor said.
"But when I start talking to them, I think they're surprised at how I'm able to convey my ideas and how they can see that I'm really passionate about what I'm doing, and that I care about youth representation but I also care about other issues as well."