Monday, February 24, 2020 - 9:15 AM

Youth Engagement Team Conducts Survey

Youth Engagement Action Team Visual

The Roaring 2020s 
By Melissa Wong, member of the City of St. John’s Youth Engagement Action Team

What is your new year’s resolution?

The question was casually asked at the birth of the new decade. It was midnight, and I was standing in a driveway, watching some neighbors shooting off fireworks into the night sky. 

What was my resolution for the start of the new decade?

In the 1920s, women had won the right to vote and rebelled against old traditions by throwing parties and making bold fashion choices. The 20s have returned. Maybe, with them, a new age of rebellion?

My boyfriend might have expected me to joke about swearing off chocolate, but I was feeling philosophical that night. 

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m scared. I might have to leave my family and this province one day if I cannot find permanent full-time work.”

As a pondered my future, snowmageddon hit the island a few weeks later. The record-breaking snowstorms led to the City of St. John’s declaring a State of Emergency (SOE) from Jan. 17-25. Canadian soldiers arrived to dig residents out of their homes and vehicles out of driveways. 

The SOE did not stop the locals from having fun and enjoying the snow. Inspired by Twitter videos of snowboarders and skiers shredding snow down the steep hilly downtown streets, we strapped on our snowshoes and dug our way outside. It took a few days. 

There is something about Newfoundland and Labrador, maybe it is the salty air, history, causal chats, feelings of safety, or the natural beauty of the rock. There is something special, something hopeful about living in Newfoundland. We have faced the cold sea in isolation; but we survived and for generations, used the sea to survive. We’re not born with hope, but we find it when we are searching for work in this province. We hope we’ll not have to leave. 

Together we survived snowmageddon… the end of the world - by demanding the impossible. When the city shut down, Newfoundlanders looked at the cup as half-full and had fun. 

My parents were born and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador. While work is rare and the cost of living is expensive, my parents found work and worked hard while healthy. 

Currently, I’m working three part-time jobs, as a librarian, freelance journalist, and copy editor/writer. I also have a Patreon account to support my journalistic and artistic work to keep from living below the poverty line. Most people probably share my goal. 
We struggle, but it has meaning. I want to stay on this rocky, unforgiving island. 

What is my new year’s resolution?

I resolved to become more involved with local politics. I volunteer with the Youth Engagement Action Team and am ready to help make the city a better place, a place where I can work and live to see my future children grow up happy and safe. 

That is my first act of rebellion for the new decade. What is yours? 

Your Voice Matters
If you are between 15 and 35 years old, the City wants to hear from you as part of our ongoing public engagement efforts. To increase the effectiveness of our public engagement for youth, we have formed a Youth Engagement Action Team (YEAT) who are working with us develop a youth engagement strategy.

Want to get involved like Melissa? Complete the survey or participate in the discussion at engagestjohns.ca.