On July 5, SALON had the pleasure of welcoming guest host Jane Hilderman of Samara Canada to In Sir John A’s Footsteps. While she was here, SALON’s, Pamela Simpson sat down with Jane to ask a few questions about Samara, Canadian politics, and what it means to be a good citizen. In Part 1 of this interview, Jane talks about the good work Samara does to support and promote everyday political engagement.
You can read Part 1: HERE
In Part 2 of this interview, we’ll get a bit more philosophical, as Jane shares her ideas about political engagement in youth, and how SALON Theatre, as an arts organization, might help to encouraging political engagement.
Jane started by dispelling a very common myth about youth and politics.
Pamela: What factors do you think play a role in encouraging youth to be interested in politics? (And how are you going to do it)
Jane: One thing I like to emphasize is people think youth are apathetic, and that is a myth, youth care a great deal. If you ask them what they care about its issues that everyone cares about, environment, jobs, the future. Let’s not assume the youth are disengaged.
So why isn’t politics the sphere for making a change?
We can look at duties, fine, but I want to see a growing believe that politics is something we don’t want to give up control of. Talking to young people you see a trend where they want to start a business or a non-profit as more important avenues for change.
Those are important ways to participate, but it still doesn’t mean you’ll have the governance you need. So how do you bridge that gap? They look at the system and think it’s too dysfunctional.
The question of how to fix a broken system is a very large question. Certainly it’s a question with many layers. However, after years of working for Samara, Jane knows some key places to start.
Jane: What we know is effective is getting people when their young, so early exposure to politics. We know through our research that face-to-face interaction is key for young people to share ideas with each other and we want to provide these outlets.
So what’s going to get a more virtuous circle going on?
We want to create a culture that celebrates politics a little bit more by creating a celebration of Canadian history that includes important insights to how we got to where we are today. It’s about changing culture, and that takes time. I think people want a different story, a more positive story about our current system.
It’s not everyday that you get someone so intelligent to comment on your work, and with opening day only 48 hours behind us, we couldn’t wait to hear Jane’s feedback on In Sir John A’s Footsteps. When we asked what her favourite part of the show, we were happy to hear she had a good time.
Jane: It was fun being part of the show, I’m not an actor but I love the arts and I love going to live theatre whenever possible. There’s something about being able to share a little bit in a live production that made it so special!
Finally, Pamela asked the most important question of all (well, the SALON Team thought it was pretty important, anyway).
Pamela: How do you think artists, like SALON, can play a role in helping to encourage strong citizenship?
Jane: Medium is the message. You do have to pay attention to the medium, Samara tries to pay attention to the online sphere but the arts is something a lot of young people gravitate to and that’s something to think about. Not just familiar faces like celebrities, but using mediums that can reframe people’s thoughts on politics.
Art is so good at changing the perspective because its creative and playful and it invites you to think about things entirely different. SALON grants people the opportunity to reframe history and take something kind of boring like old men sitting around and drinking too much, creating this country, and turning it into a spectacle.
At the beginning, Canada was very tenuous, it was not a for sure thing, it was stitching together so many groups, which tells us a bit of who we are today. We still have those stitched together places and art lets you be mindful and future looking as well.
The arts prompt people to ask questions and look to where they’re going.
We couldn’t agree more. Making connections between Canada’s past, especially the country’s political past, is part of what we at SALON hope inspires people to think more about how we keep the strongest aspects of Canada’s governance alive, while pulling out what no longer fits.
We are grateful to the inspirational and wise Jane Hilderman for her visit. With an election only months away, she was the perfect person to get this season rolling. Stay tuned for more interviews with all of our guest hosts.
For more information about Samara Canada, visit www.samaracanada.com
Interview and Transcription by Pamela Simpson
Blog written by Allison Ferry