November 18, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

King’s University College students in a London City Hall mentorship program recently spent the day with Ontario's Deputy Premier, Deb Matthews. The program includes six female students in Social Justice & Peace Studies at King's and six female mentors who are elected politicians along with municipal and non-profit leaders. Together they research policy, gaining a deeper understanding of issues pertaining to women in politics and engaging youth in civic issues. The mentors are Anna Hopkins, Tanya Park, Virgina Ridley and Maureen Cassidy (all City of London Councillors), Kate Graham, Director Community Involvement and Innovation, City of London and Shawna Lewkowitz, Executive Director, Women and Politics, London.

“It was an amazing opportunity for the students to meet with the Deputy Premier and to discuss her ideas and experiences as a successful leader and to debrief the recent U.S. election,” says Dr. Allyson Larkin, professor in the Social Justice & Peace Studies program at King’s. Matthews was elected by the residents of London North Centre to the Ontario Legislature in 2003 and re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014. She was appointed Minister of Health and Long-Term Care in October 2009 and was appointed Deputy Premier in February 2013. She was recently appointed to President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

This year’s program is building on the previous community-based learning programs that King’s Social Justice and Peace Studies has run with the city. When the former Mayor of London, Joni Baechler, became involved as a mentor for students interested in the relationship between City Hall and community organizations, she led a grant proposal from the Canadian Federation of Municipalities to build a mentorship program between councillors and students. In 2012, workshops and forums were held across campus that brought together women in politics and students from universities, colleges and high schools to explore the barriers to political participation for women. These meetings were recorded and ultimately formed the basis for the video documentary “25%” a reference to the average proportion of councils and legislatures of women to men. The goal of the program is parity of gender in politics and, to that end, the number of student participants in the mentorship has been expanded and the length of the program has been extended to a full academic year.