KSA to Attend Canadian Alliance of Student Association Advocacy Week in Ottawa
News / October 27, 2016
On Oct. 6 the KSA approved the release of $6,500 for the upcoming Canadian Alliance of Student Associations Advocacy Week. According to KSA President Alex McGowan, the funds are meant to cover “flights and accommodation and the registration fee, plus per diem, so food costs.”
This year’s CASA Advocacy Week is set to occur from Nov. 13-18, and will be attended by a number of students, student organizations, and members of parliament from across the country.
“Every year, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations puts on what they call their advocacy week, where they bring in all of their members and invite observers and non-members to attend,” explains McGowan..” Last year, they coordinated 150 meetings with MPs and stakeholders in Ottawa. This year, they hope to coordinate as many if not more.”
CASA is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization that consists of student associations from all across Canada. Since it was created in 1995, CASA has been advocating on behalf of Canadian students to the federal government, utilizing research to inform and lobby for policy change.
“It’s a really impressive advocacy effort,” says McGowan. “It’s actually known as the biggest advocacy blitz in Canada, not just in student terms, but in all terms. They have the most meetings in one sort of go in Ottawa.”
CASA helps tutor students “on how to lobby and how to go into a meeting with a politician,” he says. “So it’s really good training for us.”
The organization also assists students with awareness campaigns and developing government relations, and has been instrumental in policies that promote affordability and accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada.
CASA is not unlike the Canadian Federation of Students in the sense that it consists of a large body of associated student unions, but McGowan says that the two groups are very different in terms of what their intended purposes are and what they do for students.
“The CFS focuses more on campaigning and swaying public opinion and mobilizing students, whereas CASA focuses more on that research-based advocacy, and having meetings with MPs to change public policy.”
The CFS also provides its members with discounts for various things like a health and dental plan, or bulk-sale merchandise. However, KPU already gets better discounts on these things from other sources, so the CFS-provided services go unused.
“We acknowledge that lobbying advocacy and collaboration are really important things that we want to do. We just aren’t getting opportunities to do it with the Canadian Federation of Students,” says McGowan.
McGowan attended CASA’s Advocacy Week last year, where he met with John Aldag, the Cloverdale Langley City MP, and he expects to be able to meet with more members of parliament in November.
“Advocacy Week provides us with a great opportunity to build the lobbying skills that we have. What we usually do is we go with the current VP External and a couple of other students or counsellors who have expressed an interest in getting more involved in the external affairs side of what we do.”