Zandra Pasia’s palms were sweaty and her heart was beating faster than normal.
Nervous but full of anticipation, the University of Toronto student joined others at the Scarborough Civic Centre on Feb. 28 to take the oath of citizenship.
Voting is a way to show up and say, ‘I’m here and I matter’.
After that day, Pasia would be able to vote in her adoptive country’s political system.
“I was fascinated by the different legislative system,” she said. “In the Philippines we have democratic republic while here in Canada we have democratic parliamentary. They were both democratic in nature but totally different in application.”
A big difference, Pasia said, is how elections are conducted in the two countries.
“There has been so many issues with the ineffective system (in the Philippines), issues like vote tampering, electoral manipulation … and other electoral scandal,” she said.
The chance to have a voice in shaping what Pasia called a “cleaner” government is part of what drew her to Canada, she said.
Like Pasia, Victoria Samuels has also recently been granted the right to vote. Samuels, who turned 18 on Sept. 6, said she’s looking forward to the municipal election on Oct. 27, her first as an eligible voter.
“I feel it’s important to vote because you get to be a part and have a say in the community,” she said.
Samuels, who learned about politics and the political system in high school, said she wanted to have her voice heard once she understood how the system worked.
“I think the voting age should be 17 because we learn about the process in school and people can’t vote because they’re not 18,” she said.
On Feb. 28, the same day Pasia took the oath of citizenship, Morgan Baskin added her name to the list of candidates running for mayor of Toronto. She was 18 years old.
As it is for Pasia and Samuels, this municipal election is the first she’s eligible to vote in.
That first election, Baskin said, is an especially significant one.
“Statistically, if people vote the first time they’re able to vote, they’re more likely to vote every time for the rest of their lives,” she said. “And I think that’s incredibly important.
“Voting is a way to show up and say, ‘I’m here and I matter’,” Baskin said.