Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Second young candidate for seat on school board

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WHO said young people don't care about politics?

Tanjit Nagra, 18, will launch her campaign today for a seat in Ward 1 of the Louis Riel School Division.

In May, 20-year-old Candace Maxymowich announced she would run in Ward 4 of Louis Riel.

School board elections will be held Oct. 22 in Manitoba.

Nagra graduated from Glenlawn Collegiate in 2013 as class valedictorian and co-student council president. She's now a student at the University of Manitoba, working toward a political science degree with a minor in business, acting as vice-president external of the Undergraduate Political Studies Students' Association and as vice-president of the University 1 student council.

Nagra has an endorsement from veteran educator and retiring school trustee Wayne Ruff, who said he's leaving his line of work after 50 years to let young people such as Nagra step in to take the lead.

"I'm someone who really carefully assesses individuals," said Ruff. "And this is a very bright young woman who has already committed both in her high school... and in university in getting involved.

"I was impressed with her willingness to ask questions and try and understand and particularly her interest in giving back to her educational system."

Ruff joked he was also impressed with her ability to sit through entire school board meetings, which, on average, last around three hours.

"She religiously attended for four or five meetings, and not only attended, but stayed for the whole meetings," he said.

Nagra said her desire to get involved in politics, plus her passion for education, led her to research the opportunity to run for school trustee.

The rather simple nomination requirements established by the Manitoba School Boards Association -- you must be 18 years of age, be a Canadian citizen and live in your electoral division to seek a seat -- are also helpful for young people such as Nagra trying to test the waters in the world of politics.

"I've always wanted to be involved in the city, and this year I started looking into how I could do that," Nagra said. "Why not put my name forward and see how this goes? Win or lose, I know it will be a positive experience and I hope to treat it that way."

Some of Nagra's platform points will focus on promoting single-track French immersion programs and inclusive education, she said.

"I sit on many boards and in various leadership roles at the U of M, and I do represent quite a diverse population," said Nagra, whose family is of Indian descent, though she was born and raised in Canada.

The nine current Louis Riel school board trustees are all white and sit on the middle-aged-to-senior end of the age spectrum, which Nagra's endorser, Ruff, said ought to change.

"As we look at our school system now, the diversity that exists in our system is quite distinct. Many boards don't have young people, and they don't have individuals who represent a variety of cultural groups," said Ruff.

While Nagra feels she will be pre-emptively judged based on her age by both voters and other candidates, she knows she already has an experiential edge on some of her competition.

"I went to school in the division from kindergarten to Grade 12, so I've lived through the process. Now I really want to give back."

jessica.botelho-urbanski@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 29, 2014 A5

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Updated on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 9:10 AM CDT: Changes order of photos

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