BOW VALLEY – Get a chance to have a social with the Banff-Airdrie federal election candidates on Oct. 11 in Canmore.
Throwing out the traditional forum debate style, Canmore Youth Adult Network (CYAN) organizers are removing the stage and instead giving the candidates a chance to introduce themselves, talk about their platforms and answer questions on the floor, face-to-face, one-on-one.
"I think it's really key to learn how to have difficult conversations face-to-face," Tara Koenig, CYAN coordinator and event organizer, said.
"With the social media age we are so used to blasting our opinions without realizing that there is a human being that you are directing that to. So taking away a stage and taking away a screen makes you realize this is a human interaction with a human being who does have values and core values."
Inviting all five of the candidates to speak, including incumbent Conservative candidate Blake Richards, Liberal candidate Gwyneth Midgley, NDP candidate Anne Wilson, Green Party Candidate Austin Mullins and PPC candidate Nadine Wellwood – three have confirmed at press time, but organizers are hopeful all will show for a full house.
This is the third political advocacy event the youth network has hosted in the last several years, inviting and giving candidates from different levels of government a chance to talk to young adults about their policies and campaigns.
The first Move Mountains events was hosted in 2017 for the municipal election, the second one earlier this year for the provincial election and now the third one, next month, for the federal election.
"We wanted to create a social atmosphere rather than a debate or forum. It's a time to just come out and have one-on-one conversations and meet the candidates in a more relaxed and personable way," she said.
Every time a Move Mountains event is hosted, it gets a little bigger with more lessons learned, organizers explained. Stripping the event back down "to its roots," Koenig said this style gives residents a chance to encourage young adults to engage in topics of conversations that individuals might not agree and remove stigma from having difficult conversations.
"We are constantly just trying to make these events whether it is Move Mountains or Beers with Borrowman, anything to do with political advocacy, just make it as approachable and inviting as possible – so even if you don't have all the facts, you can still come out and feel welcome and can be inspired to be that active citizen in our community," Koenig said.
Initiated in 2015, targeting young adults 18 to 35 year old, the youth network was created as a way to connect Bow Valley young adults with each other and local resources in the community. In addition to weekly yoga, monthly pasta nights, board games and pumpkin carving, organizers are also focused on getting young adults involved with their community and learning a little more about politics.
"We wanted to create a culture where if you are passionate about an issue then know that there are organizations and groups to reach out to on a smaller community level [and] we want people to make an educated vote," Koenig said.
The Move Mountains Candidacy Social is kicking off Oct. 11 at the Spring Creek Opera House from 7-10 p.m., for adults only. Canadian citizens and non-citizens are welcome to attend with live local music by the Ramblin' Hey, Ho, Ha's. Early bird tickets are $10, or $15 at the door.
For more information visit cyancanmore.ca/movemountains.
If you want a more classic debate style forum, the Bow Valley Builders and Developers Association (BOWDA) is hosting a Federal Candidates Forum at the Malcolm Hotel in Canmore on Oct. 17 from 7 to 9 p.m.