Students at the Adult High School on Rochester Street are holding a mock federal election.

They will cast their ballots during National Student Vote Week, along with approximately 125 other schools in Ottawa. The results will be kept secret until the real election on October 21st.

At the Adult High School, voting in the mock election has a special meaning; many of them are newcomers to Canada and have never had the opportunity to vote before.

Aisha Ibrahim is originally from Syria, and came to Canada 3 years ago. She has never voted before. She is volunteering to run the election at the school. “I haven’t voted yet. I am not a citizen… I’ll tell you my experience. Some people are scared of voting so I tell them, it’s for the good.”

Ibrahim says, “It’s a privilege that we have to vote and the chance to vote. They make a difference for the next generation.”  

She is in the midst of applying to be a Canadian citizen and she can’t wait to vote in a real election.  “It’s your choice and it’s the different you want to make and see in the future.”

The ballots are identical to those used in the federal election. Other students take on the roles of election workers at the polling station and supervise voting as well as counting ballots.

Teacher Xan Woods says this is a teachable moment. Woods says, “Many of them will be voting if not this year but in the future as they are trying to pass citizenship test and we want them to have an understanding of the issues.”  

Woods says the school “embraces newcomers and we really want to make sure that our students feel welcome and feel able to make a decision when they have the opportunity to.”