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Telling Our Stories: Leaders

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Jesse Hitchcock and Sarah Bulman - Young Voters PEI

How do two girls, who barely know each other, come together to create Young Voters of PEI a non-partisan group that doesn’t care what political party you support so long as you are informed, educated and show up at the polls. As luck would have it, it all started with a Facebook message that Sarah Bulman sent to Jesse Hitchcock in Spring 2015. The met for coffee and before they walked away from that first meeting they had already sketched out what Young Voters of PEI would be and how it was going to work. Sarah and Jesse created Young Voters of PEI because of a personal frustration over a lack of not having a place to engage on those levels. “PEI is the most engaged community; how could they not be talking about these things?”

The first event that Young Voters of PEI hosted was a Policy Open Mic at Back Alley Music in April 2015. More than 100 people and all four provincial party leaders came together to talk about the issues that mattered and this event was just the tip of the iceberg. Debate viewings, election result parties, attending question period at the legislature as well as attending (and live tweeting) city council meetings have occupied a lot of Jesse and Sarah’s time over the last almost two years, in addition to both working at their full-time day jobs. That’s right, Young Voters of PEI is a purely volunteer project run by two young women.

Before forming Young Voters of PEI both Sarah and Jesse were already active volunteers in the community. Jesse as chair of the sustainability committee with Fusion Charlottetown, Sarah as co-founder of the City Centre Community School. Sarah was also part of the PEI delegation for the 21inc under-40 summit. So why are they both so involved? Why are they both so driven to help create a change? Community is the common thread that binds. “The only way that anything changes is if you go and you do the thing. The only way that youth get treated better is if they show up.”

The events organized by Jesse and Sarah over the last almost two years have brought the youth to the politicians, and seen the politicians genuinely interacting with each other and their younger constituents. They have also served as a powerful reminder of the incredible voting power of the younger voting demographic. “Not everyone is going to fit in the same box and it’s important to recognize that and respect it.”

The volunteer work that Sarah and Jesse do with Young Voters of PEI can sometimes be a bit of a dance to try and find the balance, especially when it comes to their day jobs. Both women work in positions where community engagement is a major component of their everyday lives. Luckily, for the most part, their work with Young Voters of PEI complements the work they do professionally.

Over the last year, Jesse and Sarah, have been giving a voice to young voters not just on the Island but across the country. Their passion and their drive shine through in everything that they do. “We want young people to care about this stuff.”