Two local youth made a major push on Parliament Hill yesterday for the establishment of emergency shelters to help those left homeless in Cochrane.

As part of the BGC initiative Youth on the Hill, connected to its Lead UP 2.0 program, Natonya Fedeyko and Zach Cordero and eight other representatives from across Canada talked to several MPs about issues of importance to the younger generation.

Fedeyko says youth homelessness is a growing national issue they want to address with government representatives. Local MP Blake Richards was among those they met.

"We pitched the idea of help shelters because of the increasing homeless population in Cochrane and youth struggling with drug addiction and housing problems," says Fedeyko. "A help shelter would be beneficial if they ever get kicked out or face a housing crisis."

"I know quite a few youth who face issues with getting kicked out of their homes for a couple of nights at a time. If you don't have a place to go then you're left to come up with whatever you can."

She says MP Richards said he has been made aware that it was a growing issue in his constituency.

"He said there's a big possibility they'd bring something like that to either Cochrane or Airdrie, where issues like that are becoming more and more common."

Both Fedeyko and Cordero agree the reception at Parliament has been better than they had anticipated.

"They're all willing to listen to our ideas and they're really accepting and wanting to know the points of what you think needs to be improved, rather than just what they think needs to be improved," says Fedeyko.

"It felt great to be able to speak out on some of the issues I've been noticing and just to be listened to," says Cordero. "They take youth very seriously on what they believe to be important issues.

"I think that's empowering because the youth are the future. It's really great to hear that politicians of today are willing to listen to the possible leaders of tomorrow."

The pair, escorted by Ashley Schieman, of BGC Cochrane and Area, started the day with a tour of the Senate, then met several MPs, including Greg Fergus, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Mike Lake, Edmonton-Wetaskiwin MP. They also learned about the parliamentary internship program.

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