Youth Throne Speech: “We Must Work In Unity”

November 19, 2015

Youth Premier Namrata Bisht delivered the Youth Throne Speech at the Convening of Youth Parliament, saying that the Government and youth of Bermuda must work in unity to overcome the obstacles which we face.

“I hope throughout this session of Youth Parliament, we can engage in meaningful discussions and debates surrounding mental health, the environment, education and social issues within Bermuda,” said the Youth Premier.

Youth Parliament Convening Bermuda, November 18 2015-1

Speaking on mental health, Youth Premier Bisht said: “Mental illness is not something that should be hidden away in a society. It is a serious issue which should be tackled like any other health problem.

“Due to the negative social stigma surrounding mental health hundreds of people are going undiagnosed because they are too scared to reach out for help. We must continue to educate Bermuda’s youth about the issues concerning this area and provide them with the resources to reach out for assistance.

The Youth Premier also addressed the environment, saying: “The youth of Bermuda are going to inherit this island and it is the present generation’s duty to ensure that once we do, it is not plagued with pollution and reduced to unsustainability.”

On the topic of education, the Youth Premier said: “Bermuda is one of the only countries which does not have a single college that offers a bachelor’s degree, something that is essential for securing a well-paying job. Therefore, we believe that Bermuda College’s education system should be expanded so people are able to attain qualifications equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.

“A well educated workforce is necessary for any country to advance forward and be efficient. We believe if tertiary education were more accessible to the youth of Bermuda we would be able to see immense economic, social and overall benefits.”

Youth Parliament Convening Bermuda, November 18 2015-7

The Youth Throne Speech also addressed the topic of same sex marriage saying, “Marriage is a civil right unfortunately only afforded to heterosexual couples while gay couples are discriminated against.

“Earlier this year the United States Supreme Court ruled in favour of gay marriage and same sex marriage was legalized in the United Kingdom last year in 2014. With the legalisation of gay marriage we see equality, we recognize the civil rights of all people and we do not discriminate against them on the basis of their sexuality.

“When we have a foundation of equality only then are we able to look from the perspective of other people. Although we will never know the discrimination they face, we can at least move towards becoming a more accepting society. A society which is progressive and tolerate of all people and this can have positive impacts on the youth diminishing bullying and negative stigma surrounding being gay or being different.”

The full Youth Throne Speech follows below:

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

We, the youth, are at the most amorphous stages of our lives. We do not know what awaits us but we still move forward. It is the government’s duty to provide us with an environment which will facilitate our development and ensure the best possible future for us. We understand that the government does its best to help us achieve these goals however, there are often issues which are overlooked or regarded as insignificant. This is why the government and youth of Bermuda must work in unity to overcome the obstacles which we face from an array of factors. We, Youth Parliamentarians, want to recognize and provide solutions to these challenges.

We believe that if we target the cause of these problems through education and acceptance, they can be eradicated from our society. I hope throughout this session of Youth Parliament, we can engage in meaningful discussions and debates surrounding mental health, the environment, education and social issues within Bermuda.

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

Conversations about mental health in Bermuda are often disregarded. Too often in Bermuda if you are diagnosed with a mental health problem you are labelled as mentally insane or in some other negative way. Too often in Bermuda employers are able to discriminate against persons suffering from mental illnesses as noted by Mike Hanson, chairman of the Human Rights Commission. It was encouraging to see the governor recognize this as an issue in Bermuda however there is still a long way to progress.

Mental illness is not something that should be hidden away in a society. It is a serious issue which should be tackled like any other health problem. Due to the negative social stigma surrounding mental health hundreds of people are going undiagnosed because they are too scared to reach out for help. We must continue to educate Bermuda’s youth about the issues concerning this area and provide them with the resources to reach out for assistance.

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

Now a second significant problem to be discussed are issues surrounding the environment. The youth of Bermuda are going to inherit this island and it is the present generation’s duty to ensure that once we do, it is not plagued with pollution and reduced to unsustainability. Bermuda prides itself in being one of the most beautiful destinations on earth. In order to keep our title we must take actions now to reduce our carbon footprint. Suggestions to accomplish this goal include investment into alternative energy sources and public awareness on energy conservation. Through sustainable development we can meet the country’s current needs without comprising the ability for future generations to meet their own requirements.

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

The first issue surrounding education in Bermuda is the youth’s inability to access tertiary schooling. It is increasingly strenuous for the average family to afford paying for college abroad due to inflation in college tuition. Bermuda is one of the only countries which does not have a single college that offers a bachelor’s degree, something that is essential for securing a well-paying job. Therefore, we believe that Bermuda College’s education system should be expanded so people are able to attain qualifications equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. A well educated workforce is necessary for any country to advance forward and be efficient. We believe if tertiary education were more accessible to the youth of Bermuda we would be able to see immense economic, social and overall benefits.

Another issue which has been frequently debated in Youth Parliament in the past, is the eligibility for scholarships. Although many foreign students have the requirements to attain these scholarships we are often not given the opportunity to apply because of our nationality. All government and private scholarships are closed to foreign students which creates difficulties in affording to pay for university. This monetary obstacle often does not allow young people to afford university thus stripping away their chances of gaining a college degree.

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

The fourth prevalent problem we face in Bermuda are the social issues within the youth community. Gun violence and gang membership in Bermuda has become a norm and a part of our daily lives. We cannot let the proliferation of gang activity go unnoticed. Instead of reacting to the violent acts we must be proactive towards stopping them from taking place. During one of our sessions, we discussed ways in which we could target this behaviour. The fellow Youth Parliamentarians suggestions included, more awareness about the punishments from these gang related crimes and also outreach programs in communities with high rates of gang violence. Through awareness and unity we can prevent these violent acts from taking place. Additionally, the outreach programs can act as deterrents for teens who may want to pursue gang-related activities by giving them a more productive way to spend their time. This Youth Parliament is focused on eradicating gang-related crimes among our youth.

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

Our first formal debate for the 2015 session was held on October 21st. The motion debated was “This house would ban homework”. Side opposition who supported the motion cited too much stress, not enough time and the potential for plagiarism to be one of the main causes to ban homework. Side government’s primary argument included the benefits to students from homework, namely that homework is necessary because teachers do not have enough time in class and that this would result in Bermuda having a more reliable and well prepared work force in the future. Ultimately government won the debate. Due to the strong cases on both sides the minister of education is current drafting a proposal which includes how we can encourage more students to complete homework assignments.

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

Since September we have also had many impromptu debates during our sessions concerning: the ban of dark visors in Bermuda and if emergency services should be penalized for arriving late to accidents. Youth Parliamentarians also had the opportunity to learn parliamentary procedures from the Shadow Minister of Immigration and External Affairs Mr. Walton Brown. In addition, his visit sparked a discussion about marriage equality in Bermuda. Marriage is a civil right unfortunately only afforded to heterosexual couples while gay couples are discriminated against. Earlier this year the United States Supreme Court ruled in favour of gay marriage and same sex marriage was legalized in the United Kingdom last year in 2014. With the legalisation of gay marriage we see equality, we recognize the civil rights of all people and we do not discriminate against them on the basis of their sexuality. When we have a foundation of equality only then are we able to look from the perspective of other people. Although we will never know the discrimination they face, we can at least move towards becoming a more accepting society. A society which is progressive and tolerate of all people and this can have positive impacts on the youth diminishing bullying and negative stigma surrounding being gay or being different. I hope this is a motion we can discuss further in the future.

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

The leaders for side opposition and government have appointed ministers for the Ministry of Energy and Environment, Tourism and Transport, Youth Education and Employment, Youth Health and Safety, Youth Justice, Rehabilitation, Right and Crime Prevention and the Ministry of Youth Development, Culture and Recreation. This structure allows parliamentarians to gain knowledge focused on that specific area and the ability to lead discussions pertaining to their ministry. Furthermore, Youth Parliament has elected a Public Relations officer who is responsible for contacting the local newspaper and utilizing social media about the debates and discussions which take place within the doors of this Cabinet. This makes membership to Youth Parliament more accessible to high school students and encourages communications through various platforms.

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

All parliamentarians should work towards the goal of becoming more aware of the issues not only surrounding Bermuda but also the ones taking place all over the world. We must realize “No man is an island”. This means although there may be motions which don’t seem like they affect the youth of Bermuda, their universal nature means that the youth are in fact affected and should be consulted in the decision-making process. This mind-set will allow us to develop an international perspective to the prevalent issues youth face globally.

Madam Speaker and Members of Youth Parliament,

It is essential that Youth Parliament remain an outlet for younger people to spark positivity within the society and strive towards a better tomorrow. Youth Parliamentarians, it is our responsibility that we are able to represent our schools and Bermuda to the best of our ability and that we advocate for the youth. We are often called the future of Bermuda. But we are not just that, we are the present and it is our promise to lobby for a beneficial change in Bermuda.

On behalf of Youth Parliamentarians, we would like to thank you for listening to the future endeavours of Youth Parliament. We are gracious for your support and are aware that it is a privilege to interact with the MPs, senators and other honourable guests which have joined us today and throughout our sessions. We hope to continue communicating with you to strengthen the ties between Youth Parliament and Bermuda’s government.

With this being said, I hereby declare that The Youth Parliament of Bermuda is officially open. Madam Speaker, thank you.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Hey says:

    Very good topics that have been addressed!

  2. Serious Though says:

    First Great work, youth Parliament i would recommend the Govt to adopt or add some points to theirs from this, in the interest of reaching out to our future leaders of this country have spoken..they have vision great vision

  3. Cow Polly says:

    More open minded than our senior Parliamentarians

  4. looooooooooosh says:

    ermagherd thats my ex debate teammate

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