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Morinville student one of Alberta's top 30 under 30

Provincial groups honours global citizen

By: Kevin Ma

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 06:00 am

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A Morinville high school student has been declared one of Alberta’s top 30 residents under 30 years of age due to his efforts to get youth pumped up about politics.

The Alberta Council for Global Cooperation announced earlier this month that it had picked Morinville’s Tristan Turner as one of the 30 Alberta leaders profiled in the 2014 Top 30 Under 30 magazine. The council is a federally-funded group that promotes global citizenship.

This is the third time the group has run its Top 30 Under 30 contest, which is meant to highlight Albertans (or people who work with Albertans) who are under 30 and dedicated to making a difference locally and globally, said council spokesperson Chris Chang-Yen Phillips.

“It actually provides a huge boost,” said Chang-Yen Phillips, who was featured in the 2012 edition of the magazine. “It’s really cool to show people that, hey, someone’s recognizing my efforts.”

Past local winners include St. Albert’s Graeme Matichuk, who co-founded the Global Awareness group at Bellerose Composite High School, and Amanda Sarrazin, who works to teach Tanzanian villagers about malaria.

Turner, 16, is a student at Morinville Community High School and the first Morinville resident to get into the Top 30 Under 30, Chang-Yen Phillips said.

Turner has been an active member of the New Democratic Youth of Alberta since age 14, and organized two public rallies in St. Albert to protest the 2012 federal omnibus budget bill. He writes a regular column for The Morinville News and co-founded the Morinville Interact (Youth Rotary) Club. His father, Barry Turner, is a member of town council.

Turner said his friend and refugee advocate Bashir Mohamed of Edmonton nominated him for the Top 30.

“I sort of assumed he was doing it on a lark,” he said, so he was shocked when he learned he won.

Not surprised by the win was Rosie Kruhlak, a social studies teacher at Morinville Community High who has known Turner for three years.

“He has a very humanitarian outlook,” Kruhlak said, and is very giving of his time.

Turner traced his involvement with the New Democratic Party to his father and grandfather, both of whom have been party supporters.

“I’m really passionate about making a difference in my community and my country,” he said, adding that he sees politics as the way to make that difference. “I want to see things change.”

Turner said he’s concerned with how today’s youth are becoming disengaged with politics – a combination of “voluntary Balkanization” through social media and cynicism brought on by politicians eroding the democratic process.

“If we’re going to enjoy the same quality of life our parents did … it’s critical that we get involved now,” Turner said.

The Morinville Interact Club will head to Mexico in a few months to help former dump dwellers establish a day care, he said as an example, and will soon start work on other local issues.

Adults have to encourage youth to get involved instead of dismissing them due to their age. “If people assume they have nothing to offer, they won’t offer anything.” Having young leaders as role models would also help.

These may be affluent times, but there’s still much in the world and our own backyard to do, Kruhlak said.

“The heart of social studies is to make students into good citizens,” she said. “Tristan is already there.”

Turner said he planned to get a political science degree after high school. While he ruled out a run for town council, he said he might get into provincial or federal politics.

The 2014 Top 30 Under 30 magazine will be released at an awards gala at the University of Alberta this Feb. 1. Call Chang-Yen Phillips at 780-988-0200 for details.


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