As Manitoba’s newly appointed conservation and climate minister, Sarah Guillemard is still getting up to speed on her new role in cabinet — and asking the province’s young people for help saving the planet.
"We need to tap into not only the energy that youth has shown, but many of their ideas. We’re recognizing that generationally, we have different expertise (and) skill sets," Guillemard said in an interview.
"And certainly, the youth coming up are going to have a lot more of the innovative aspect that we really do need to key in on and listen to those neat ideas."
Many young people have already reached out to Guillemard and former sustainable development minister Rochelle Squires (now minister of municipal relations) informally. The department shared 16 letters and drawings from Grade 2 and 3 students Monday.
The letters, addressed to Squires in March, begged for action on climate change and showed the students were very concerned about penguins.
"Dear Ms. Squires, penguins are dying. The globle warming is melting the ice in Antarctica. They need ice to survive... Can you try to talk to somewon to help the penguins?" one student asked.
The Progressive Conservative provincial government is assembling its first youth advisory council to discuss climate change, starting this month.
Applications are open for Manitoba residents who are ideally between the ages of 15 and 25 as of Nov. 1 and willing to serve a one-year term.
Those interested should be "knowledgeable of issues related to the (Manitoba) Climate and Green Plan" and "demonstrate a proven engagement and interest in environmental issues and/or civil society issues," according to the province’s website.
The deadline for applications is Nov. 10, at midnight.
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Monday, November 4, 2019 at 8:30 PM CST: Adds photos