North Vancouver student meets Justin Trudeau while playing politician for the day

It's not every day a secondary school student's itinerary involves hobnobbing with the prime minister of his country. Then again, Wednesday, Nov. 2, hadn't been like any other school day, and Brogan Maloney, a ninth-grader at Ecole Handsworth Secondary, isn't like any other student.

That day Maloney had been in Ottawa shadowing his uncle, James Maloney, Liberal MP for the Etobicoke Lakeshore district, as part of the North Vancouver school's Take Our Kids to Work Day.

He had toured Parliament buildings and met with political bigwigs, but his most notable experience of all had been sitting down with his uncle's colleague – or, as the rest of the world knows him, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"It was awesome," said Maloney, reflecting on the experience afterwards.

He said he had been nervous to meet Trudeau, especially when standing outside his office, waiting to be ushered in, but the Prime Minister had immediately put him at ease.

"He is a really nice person," he said.

Chewing the political fat with the country's leader had sparked an interest in politics for Maloney, who said, prior to the event, he hadn't really thought about what he would do for a career.

It hadn't been his first foray into the political sphere – in 2019 he aided his uncle's campaign in Toronto, knocking on doors, handing out flyers at subways stops and helping deliver lawn signs – but he had never considered it as a career for himself until his day donning the politican's hat.

Helping young teenagers realize what job opportunities are available to them is the aim of the annual national program, which was first initiated in 1994 by the Learning Partnership.

"The program gives our Grade 9s a chance to see what the working world is like," said Handsworth vice-principal Meghan Downie.

"To see what networking looks like, and to have the opportunity to potentially get some ideas for after high school."

For some students, it is simply an opportunity to understand the careers of their family members, to see them outside of the context of parent, or uncle, and better understand what they do to help contribute towards the family.

"I think a lot of times it's a bit unknown to the students, what their mom or dad or uncle, or uncle's prime minister colleague, does," said Downie.

"So to be able to see it in person is very cool for our students."

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News