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Winnipeg Free Press



Dying teen's plea to Canadians: get out and vote

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/10/2019 (303 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For a country diagnosed with voter apathy, Maddison Yetman may be the antidote.

The 18-year-old Manitoban who found out Friday she has terminal, inoperable cancer has posted a social media video from her hospital bed, urging people to vote.

"This is my last chance to make a difference," she said on a social media post Tuesday that’s been shared thousands of times. "Please share this with your network and get out and vote!"

In the video, the slight young woman with short hair and glasses holds up signs explaining her terminal diagnosis and what's important to her in her final days: voting in the Oct. 21 federal election. 

"If I can find the time to vote, you can find the time to vote," are the only words Yetman utters aloud in the video that had been viewed more than 300,000 times by late Tuesday evening.

The bed-ridden teen, who was told she has just days or weeks left to live, was not up for media interviews, said family spokesman Brent Williamson.

Yetman wants to spend the time she has left with her parents and loved ones, said Williamson, her uncle who works at Global News Winnipeg and helped her with the video.

The University of Winnipeg anthropology student grew up in Lorette, and has been politically active for years, he said.

"From junior high on, she really had strong political views and made sure everyone in her life knew what they were," said Williamson. "She’s a strong-willed young lady and she had her sets of beliefs and she's going to get them across."

"She’s a strong–willed young lady and she had her sets of beliefs and she's going to get them across." –Family spokesman Brent Williamson

After turning 18 in November, Yetman voted in the Sept. 10 provincial election, and was planning to vote federally Oct. 21.

On Oct. 6, she went to the hospital with aches, back pain and strange bruising, Williamson said.

"It escalated really quickly. Within three hours of getting to the hospital, she couldn't walk," he said. "Within five or six hours, they gave us the cancer diagnosis. Five days later... they told us it was terminal and it wasn't curable.

"Two hours after the diagnosis, we were in the hall and she says, 'I'm going to vote in that damn election no matter what happens.'"

On the weekend, Elections Canada workers were at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre to give patients the opportunity to vote.

"Her parents woke her up to vote," said Williamson.

Maddison Yetman found out Friday she has terminal, inoperable cancer, yet urged Canadians to vote next week. (Brent Williamson)

Maddison Yetman found out Friday she has terminal, inoperable cancer, yet urged Canadians to vote next week. (Brent Williamson)

Elections Canada says eligible electors who are hospitalized during the election period can register and vote by special ballot from their hospital room. Patients were told in advance the date and time when their voting would happen, said Natasha Gauthier with Elections Canada.

"In this scenario, an election officer visits each room and helps patients fill out their application," Gauthier said in an email.

"They can also help the patient cast their ballot, if needed. Like any elector, patients still need to prove their identity and address."

After casting her ballot, Yetman summoned the strength and courage to urge others to vote, too.

"It shows how much it meant to her — it's an indicator of how much it should mean for everyone else," said Williamson. "There's nothing we can do for her, but this is something we can do: we helped her with the video."

He marvelled at his gravely ill niece's determination to rally Canadians to exercise their right to vote.

"She lit up when we talked about the idea for the video," Williamson said. "Thirty per cent of Canadians take it for granted, and here you've got a young kid who is going to get to vote in one federal election and was not going to miss the opportunity.

"It's pretty inspirational."

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

Read full biography


Updated on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 11:07 PM CDT: Numbers updated.

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