18-year-old Marek McLeod stole the spotlight at the English federal election leaders debate – Toronto Star

Marek McLeod, a young voter, asks the party leaders a question at the 2021 federal election leaders debate on Thursday night.

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By Sima ShakeriToronto Star

Fri., Sept. 10, 20211 min. read

First-time voter Marek McLeod became the star of the show for many who watched the English language federal election leaders debate on Thursday night.

The 18-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie had the opportunity to ask the federal leaders a question and made quite the impression.

“In Ojibwe culture, trust and respect is key to any relationship,” he began, before pausing with an “oh shoot.” After quickly regaining his composure, the teenager finished asking his hard-hitting question.

“How can I trust and respect the federal government after 150-plus years of lies and abuse to my people, and as prime minister, what would you do to rebuild the trust between First Nations and the federal government?”

Asking a serious question on such a high-profile stage is a stressful endeavour, but this isn’t McLeod’s first time putting himself out there in hopes of influencing change.

Last year, the then-Superior Heights Collegiate & Vocational School student served as the Indigenous Student Trustee for the Algoma District School Board where he told SooToday he would share his perspective on Indigenous and political matters.

“I’ve always believed that if you want to see a positive impact in your life and your community you’ve got to do it yourself, not just for your own self-interests, but for those that can’t do it themselves,” he told the outlet in 2020.

McLeod’s incredibly human stumble resonated with viewers as well, and many took to social media to shout out the relatable moment and applaud the University of Ottawa student for finishing his question strongly.

Others added that even seasoned journalists often got nervous on TV and would stumble.

And someone even edited McLeod’s moment into their own heritage moment.

Sima Shakeri is a digital producer at the Toronto Star

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