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Our Winners: The CPA Youth Creativity Competition 2021

In 2021, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) celebrated the 110th anniversary of its founding in 1911. Across the course of the year, the CPA both reflected on the history of Commonwealth Parliaments and looked ahead to their future.

Our 'Parliament Buildings of the Commonwealth' book, published this month, delved into the past, exploring how the buildings that house the democratic institutions of the Commonwealth have evolved over the last 110 years.  In July, our 'Virtual Conference on the 4th Industrial Revolution' helped our Members envision the future, inviting technological leaders to draw a roadmap of where the next 110 years might take us and consider how Parliaments can stay ahead of the curve.

It was not just our Members, though, that were looking to the future this year. Another forward-looking anniversary initiative was the CPA Youth Creativity Competition. Launched in July, the pan-Commonwealth competition encouraged young people to imagine the future of democracy by submitting a creative response to the question: 'What will Parliaments look like in the next 110 years?'

 

As we reach the end of our 110th anniversary year, we are pleased to announce the winners of the competition. We received a wide variety of entry types, including drawings, videos, poems, short stories and essays, which impressed our judges. Entries, shortlisted and submitted to the CPA Secretariat by CPA Branches, were ranked on presentation, skill and imagination. The judging panel consisted of:

  • Lord Fakafanua, Speaker of the Parliament of Tonga (2012-14, 2017-21)
  • Hon. Kyle Knowles, Member of the Turks and Caicos Islands House of Assembly
  • Stephen Twigg, CPA Secretary-General
  • Crystal Paris, Leader of the Opposition at the 2021 Virtual Commonwealth Youth Parliament (delegate for Queensland, Australia)

The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg, said,

"I thoroughly enjoyed judging the entries to the CPA Youth Creativity Competition, received from across the Commonwealth. The mixture of written, artistic and digital submissions reflects the range of tools that young people now have at their disposal to express themselves, and the imaginative, futuristic thinking on display showed that young people have great ambitions for the future."

Our youngest judge, Crystal Paris, added,

"It was a pleasure to review all of the submissions. What an enlightened and creative bunch of entrants!"

Entries were divided into three groups: infants (0-11 years old), juniors (12-14 years old) and seniors (15-18 years old). The full list of winners and runners-up, along with their entries, are published below. The winners will receive the equivalent of GBP£100 in book/gift vouchers.

Infant Group

0 - 11 years old

Winner: Feza School Dodoma (Tanzania)
Runner-Up: Courtney Croew Chiles (Alberta, Canada)

The winning entry in the Infant Group came from Feza School in Dodoma, Tanzania. The young classmates narrated an impressive animated video featuring  symbolic representations of the Tanzanian Parliament, a brief history of the Parliament and the Commonwealth and visualisations of future technology.

The group recognised that, as the population of Tanzania grows, the Parliament will also need to grow and adapt to remain representative of the people of Tanzania. They also predicated several technological changes to the Parliament building, including climate-friendly solar panels and a system of digital cameras.


DID YOU KNOW:

The current Parliament Building of Tanzania, constructed in 2008 and known as the Bunge, sports a unique blend of modernist design contrasting with Islamic motifs. Located in the capital city of Dodoma, the building is curvilinear with the entrance in the middle supported by a round-arched roof and paired columns. This structure appears in a style similar to the buttresses found in gothic architecture.

This is an excerpt from our new 'Parliament Buildings of the Commonwealth' book. Find out more about the book ->


 

The runner-up was a short video by Courtney-Croew Chiles, from Alberta, Canada, showing some of the technologies that will allow virtual interactions in the Parliaments of the future.

 

Watch | Video by Feza School, Dodoma (Tanzania)

Junior Group

12 - 14 years old

Winner: Beatrix Stone (Alberta, Canada)
Runner Up: Fatima Aziz (Pakistan)

The winning entry in the Junior Group was submitted by Beatrix Stone from Alberta, Canada. Beatrix wrote a short story that took you inside a future Parliament, following a day in the life of Sam, Ella and their colleagues, including a session of the brilliantly named 'Committee of Florists for the Furthering of Lunar Mining' and a brewing scandal for Prime Minister Nadia and the Council of Extra-Terrestrial Operations.

The runner-up was an essay by Fatima Aziz from Pakistan. The essay traced the history of the Parliament of Pakistan, from its founding in 1947 after the Partition of India, through the establishment of reserved seats for women in 2001, eventually looking ahead to a future where Parliament House was freed of pollution by the invention of new car technology.

Read | Two Weeks In, by Beatrix Stone
This is an excerpt from Beatrix's short story. Read the full story ->

Dianne blinked the fog from her vision to resume squinting at the holo-screen before her. The words seemed jumbled, a sordid smoothie of the mediocre writing with end-of-the-week tiredness poured into her barely lucid mind. It was weird. These pages that had felt so good as they were typed last night now seemed like the clunky scrawl of a three-year old’s kindergarten story assignment. She chugged the last of her lukewarm coffee, almost slamming the mug down.

“You look...terrible.”
Dianne looked up to see Alex leaning against her door frame. She let out a dry laugh.
“You look terrible,” she shot back. Alex raised an eyebrow and plopped down on the couch, propping her feet up on the chair across from Dianne’s desk.

“Here all night?”
“Obviously.”
“Come up with anything?”
“Nothing worth discussing.”

“If you say so,” Alex said. “She wants you in there by the way.” Dianne froze, eyes wide.
“Well, you might have led with that!”
She grabbed her files and pulled down the hologram, shoving them all haphazardly into her pocket. Alex stood, laughing.

“You really need to calm down about her; She likes you.”
“Yeah, that will definitely help when I show up late during my second week.”

Alex almost pointed out that it was everyone’s second week but bit her tongue. Her eyes followed Dianne through the maze of offices, looking every bit as frightened and nervous as a kindergartener on the first day of school. She let out a small sigh, checking the time on the small projector around her wrist. She swiped left, scrolling through the timetable for the rest of the day. Everyone seemed to be in such a rush-either unpacking or wading through the mounds of prep work before the Opening Address to the Nation-a sort of “what-the-hecks-going-on” evaluation to kick off to the Prime Minister’s six year term. Alex knew
as well as any that if they didn’t make a good first impression there’s no way they survive the third year Midterm Recast-the re-election to either keep on going or start all over with a new PM. This was why it was weird-Alex, the deputy communications director to the newly elected Prime Minister Nadia, had nothing to do with only four weeks to prep the most important speech of this year.

That’s what landed her in a meeting with the Committee of Florists for the Furthering of Lunar Mining.

Senior Group

15 - 18 years old

Winner: Noshin Abreshi Pew (Bangladesh)
Runner Up: Parker Laurie (Alberta, Canada)

The winning entry in the Senior Group was an essay from Noshin Abreshi Pew in Bangladesh. Noshin imagined a "50:50" Parliament in Bangladesh where the public elects equal numbers of male and female MPs. The essay also predicated that voting will be possible at home via mobile phones, with a live count of votes streamed online for people to follow, helping to build trust in the election process.

Read | What Will My Parliament Look Like in the Next 110 Years by Noshin Abreshi Pew
This is an excerpt from Noshin's essay.

There's a saying, "The world is a canvas for your imagination. You are the painter. There are NO RULES. Get to work." As the power of imagination makes us infinite, I want to put that power of mine in creating a Parliament which will work for each and every citizen, which will debate and make laws for the betterment of the whole nation.

The Parliament of Bangladesh is a unicameral legislature consisting of 350 Members of which 300 Members are from 300 territorial constituencies that is one from each constituency, on the basis of adult franchise. The remaining 50 seats are reserved for women who are elected by aforesaid elected Members in accordance with law on the basis of procedure of proportional representation in the Parliament through Single Transferable Vote. I wholeheartedly believe the numbers of reserved women seats will permanently increase to 100+ seats in the next 110 years as women can bring unique leadership traits of ensuring a fine balance between home and work and they are also better crisis managers. Women currently hold the positions of Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Speaker of the House and the Deputy Leader of Parliament in Bangladesh. So I believe in the next 110 years we will be able to see the number of women elected as MPs equalling the number of male MPs.

[...]

Hurricanes, floods and other disasters linked to climate change are threatening the lives of our people. Bangladesh Parliament has already unanimously adopted a resolution for declaration of a "Planetary Emergency" aiming to grow global awareness for saving the earth from its existential crisis. In the next 110 years, a law to ensure forests aren't being demolished every now and then for industrial purposes will exist. Moreover, Parliament will ensure strict punishment against those who cut but don't plant trees."

"One individual may die; but that idea will, after his death, incarnate itself in a thousand lives". Knowing I won't be there to witness what will happen in Parliament in the next 110 years, I came up with these ideas of an imaginary Parliament with a hope that someday my ideas and expectations will come true.

Fun Facts | The Parliament of Bangladesh

DID YOU KNOW:

The Parliament of Bangladesh, located in the capital, Dhaka, is one of the largest legislative complexes in the world, encompassing a total area of approx. 215 acres. Surrounded by water and consisting of nine individual blocks, the building received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989.

This is an excerpt from our new 'Parliament Buildings of the Commonwealth' book. Find out more about the book ->

The runner up in the Senior Group was a poem titled 'The Valkyries' by Parker Laurie from Alberta, imagining a group of women, 'pioneers, warriors, change makers', winning elections and filling leadership positions across the world.

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