By Dale Woodard on February 25, 2021.
Holly Kletke’s passions and her presence both in school and in the community have earned her a trip to Ottawa.
Virtually, at least.
The Lethbridge resident and student at the University of Lethbridge where she’s in her third year of education and music was recently selected to take part in the third iteration of Daughters of the Vote March 5-8.
Daughters of the Vote is an initiative by Equal Voice that began in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of some women getting the right to vote in Canada, and the journey of women’s full participation in politics today.
As one of 338 delegates, representing every federal riding in Canada, Kletke was selected through an open call for applications to participate in the dynamic political leadership summit in Ottawa, fueled by the goal of electing more women to political office by empowering young women and gender diverse youth to share their lived experiences and visions for the future of Canada.
However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the third Daughters of the Vote will be the first program to be held entirely online.
Still, Kletke said the privelage is one she’s looking forward to, even if it’ll be in front in a computer screen back here in Lethbridge.
“I feel very lucky and grateful that I was chosen to take part in this conference,” said Kletke. “I’m so excited to delve in and learn more about what I’m passionate about and also to hear from similarly-minded delegates from around Canada. We have women coming in from all around Canada, so that’s exciting.”
Kletke applied for Daughters of the Vote through their conference website.
“The process was writing about yourself, your activities and programs of study and things you’ve been involved in,” she said.
“But also they have us write about things we’re passionate about in our riding and just in general.”
Those passions Kletke wrote about in her online application were enough for Daughters of the Vote to extend her an invite.
“Things that have been on my mind very recently have been things surrounding student advocacy for post-secondary students. That’s one thing that’s very important to me,” said Kletke.
“But more broadly, I think inclusivity, equity and diversity are very important subjects to me. I think that encompasses many of the issues that seem to be on the political stage right now. So I’m very interested in taking any opportunity I can to learn more about inclusivity and inclusive practices.
“Another passion of mine is definitely climate activism. I think that’s a very important subject in politics today.”
The event will feature speakers from all political backgrounds partnering with community organizations to deliver this year’s program.
Topics of the sessions throughout the four-day program will include working at all levels of government, inclusive politics, media engagement, Parliamentary committee simulations and a virtual House of Commons session on International Women’s Day on March 8.
Delegates will also have the opportunity to hear from the leaders of Canada’s federal political parties on that day.
“It’s a four-day conference that’ll have sessions each day about different topics such inclusivity in politics,” said Kletke. “We also get to take part in a virtual parliamentary committee of our choice. I haven’t chosen my committee yet. But we’ll look at what the options are.”
Though a trip to Canada’s capital would be nice, Kletke was nonetheless grateful to take part in the virtual event of Daughters of the Vote.
“It’s actually quite exciting because while it would be nice to be in Ottawa on Parliament Hill it’s also nice to attend a conference in your own space. With this online format, I feel like I’ll have a chance to focus and pay as much attention as I can at all of the sessions. Also, I’m sure I’ll be down in Ottawa some other time.”
In the meantime, Kletke has plenty on the go back home.
“On campus, I’m a faculty representative for the fine arts on the students union,” she said. “In the past, I’ve been a U of L senator and this year I’m president of the Student Alumni Council pact. I’m a residence assistant as well.
“Out in the community I’m also on the board of Interfaith Food Bank Society as part of a program run by Volunteer Alberta.”
That involvement allows Kletke to give back.
“It’s very important to me,” she said.
“I’ve had such a positive experience at the university and that’s owed to the various opportunities I’ve been given and taken part in. I just want to do what I can to make sure every student has a similar, positive experience as me.”
This year’s program also includes elements to ensure the inclusivity of Daughters of the Vote, such as mandatory anti-racism and anti-oppression training for all participants, staff, and volunteers, forums for Indigenous and Black delegates and sessions which focus on the diverse and intersectional identities of delegates and their impact on political engagement.
“I think the thing I’m most excited for is to meet the other delegates and to talk and hear the opinions around Canada, because a chance like this to interact with my peers on a national level is very exciting,” said Kletke.
“So I’m looking forward to that and meeting people and hearing their perspectives.”
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