Student vote big success with Pincher Creek youth

·2 min read

If youths had voted in last week’s federal election, the results may have turned out differently.

This year, Student Vote Canada brought 700,000 schools together to hold a mock election. 740, 515 votes were reported from 5,478 schools, with results from all federal electoral districts, revealing a Liberal minority government and an NDP opposition.

Among them were local schools Canyon Elementary and Matthew Halton High School in Pincher Creek and Livingstone School in Lundbreck.

“I was quite impressed with how seriously they took the promise, the things they liked and disliked about different groups,” says Derek Shackleford, a Grade 6 teacher at Canyon.

In the weeks leading up to Sept. 20, Shackleford taught his students as much as he could about voting and politics. They completed assignments and projects on the local candidates and learned about the polling process.

Shackleford taught his students the importance of independent research, encouraging them to develop their own ideas.

“I wanted them to not just listen to parents or friends. It was more to research what’s important to them,” he says.

Kaydan Harrison, one of Shackleford’s students, says research was his favourite part of the activity.

“I looked at all the promises to see which one looked as close to the one that I like,” he says, adding that his research led him to think about what’s best for the country.

Only Grade 6 students completed the activity at Canyon — part of their social studies unit — and they were able to play a variety of roles, including scrutineers, poll clerks and deputy returning officers.

School results showed an almost even split in support between the NDP and the Conservative party, with Michelle Traxel winning almost 39 per cent of the vote and John Barlow winning around 32 per cent of the vote.

Fiona Hodge, a Canyon student, describes the voting process as intense and suspenseful.

“My hands were shaking so much,” she says. “I couldn’t do a check or an X. It was kind of scary but really fun.”

At Matthew Halton, Barlow reigned supreme, capturing over 60 per cent of the vote. Traxel was a distant second with 16.98 per cent.

To view video of students sharing their experience with the vote, visit

Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

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