KPU’s Model UN team wins four awards at the Northwest Model UN Conference

The conference was held in Portland from Feb. 17 to 19

KPU’s Model UN team from left to right: Lorne Putman, Bobby Gardner, and Jemma Heathcote won four awards at the Northwest Model UN Conference. (Submitted)

KPU’s Model UN team from left to right: Lorne Putman, Bobby Gardner, and Jemma Heathcote won four awards at the Northwest Model UN Conference. (Submitted)

Editor’s note: Lorne Putman, who was interviewed for this article, is a contributor for The Runner. The Runner acknowledges and has taken steps to prevent conflicts of interest or potential bias from influencing the article. 

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s new Model UN team won four Distinguished Delegate Awards at the Northwest Model UN Conference held in Portland, Oregon. 

The team represented Germany and the conference was focused around committee debate, negotiation, and writing resolutions. Jemma Heathcote, president of the Debate club at KPU, brought the team together after she reached out to an instructor in the political science department. 

“We picked Germany because they’re a pretty strong power in Europe, but they’re not one of the top powers in the world. It would have been really difficult to be the US, China, or UK at our first ever conference. So, we wanted to pick a power that had a lot of influence yet wasn’t going to take all the attention,” Heathcote says. 

In preparation for the conference, the team held study sessions where they collectively found information and prepared position papers to demonstrate their understanding of the topics. 

Heathcote says it was a great honour to receive the awards. 

“Since this was our first ever conference, it felt like we were being recognized for the hard work we had put in,” Heathcote says. “We just wanted to go to [the conference] to get this club started and get a taste of Model UN but to win the award almost felt like affirmation that there is a lot of talent at KPU.”

The conference had nine nations and four committees, three out of which consisted of KPU’s Model UN team members. Each committee had different debate topics. Heathcote, who won the Distinguished Delegate Award, was in the Peacebuilding Commission. Her committee talked about disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, as well as peacebuilding in the Pacific Island region with a focus on climate change. 

“I definitely learned how to negotiate better, because you’re all representing different member states. So, you all have different priorities that you’re wishing to push,” Heathcote says. 

She also says she learnt to put her point across while taking others’ opinions into account, incorporating the other member states and their priorities into her paper, along with creating resolutions.

Heathcote says these conferences are important for the academic and social life of the university and give opportunities to students to put their academic knowledge to test as well as meet other students. 

“It’s [Model UN] something that we can bring back to the KPU community and something that you can be proud to be able to go to these sorts of conferences and maybe perform well, and learn a thing or two,” Heathcote says.

Team member Lorne Putman says winning the Best Delegation Award at his first conference made him feel empowered after going up against other teams consisting of 15 to 20 members. 

“The community was very supportive and helpful. Once we were there, they showed us how to do things like a preambular clause, and [other] things like that. The more technical details you wouldn’t know about until you’re actually doing them,” he says. 

Putman was in the general assembly and talked about sustainable mountain development, preserving the environment, and tackling global illiteracy.

Bobby Gardner, who won a Distinguished Delegate as well as a Position Paper Award, says winning the awards made him feel proud of being from KPU. 

Gardner talked about global human rights, international diplomacy, the human rights situation in Haiti, as well as antisemitism at the conference.

“The way we address the issues of [human rights] of people in different countries or people of specific minority groups really shows how we talk about human rights in general,” Gardner says.