Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Former Camosun College Student Society executive elected as Cobble Hill director

January 21, 2015 by Pascale Archibald, contributing writer

A former Camosun College Student Society (CCSS) external executive is now a director for the Cobble Hill region in the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Elected in November, 32-year-old Matteus Clement was CCSS external executive for two years between 2009 and 2011. He says that during his time with the society he gained more experience than expected and learned incredibly valuable skills for political life.

“I’m really shocked. I’ve talked to a few people now who work in government,” says Clement. “We’re all very surprised how well the student movement prepared us.”

Camosun alumnus Matteus Clement: join the student society (photo provided).

 

Clement originally came to the college to attend the now-defunct Applied Communications Program, but he says he feels like he left Camosun with a Masters in Communication, thanks to his work with the CCSS.

“It provided me the ground and the support to go and try things, and that was super cool because I had the resources and the staff,” he says. “It was really the best part about Camosun, bar none.”

The most influential person for Clement during his time at Camosun was, surprisingly, not a teacher; instead, he points to CCSS executive director Michel Turcotte as an inspiration.

“He was really a great teacher of the political system, and I have a lot to thank him for because he showed me a great deal,” says Clement.

Turcotte remembers Clement fondly and says the former external executive displayed “forethought and leadership” in his work on campus events, as well as efforts to further campus life.

“I really enjoyed working with Matteus,” says Turcotte. “He was always trying to push forward initiatives that benefited students. He is a natural and effective politician and I wish him well at the Cowichan Valley Regional District.”

Clement says that his invaluable education on political systems came from his dedication and hard work with the CCSS.

“Overall, I was a really active member of the CCSS; I wasn’t just an armchair politician,” he says. “I got in and they said, ‘Hey, you have a $1.5-million budget and your job is to lobby on the behalf of students.’”

Clement says he learned several valuable lessons through his work with the CCSS, lessons that he carries with him today in his political work with the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

“One lesson learned was consulting with the public and finding out what they really want, because instead of looking into a crystal ball, you need to go out there and talk with people and engage,” says Clement. “I also learned about the importance of going to the table with money. If you go to the table asking for something and you don’t have money, people aren’t usually willing to listen.”

Clement isn’t the first Camosun student to benefit from hands-on experience through the CCSS. Rachael Grant, the CCSS’ current external executive, can relate to Clement’s experience.

“Being part of the student society often means learning about the details within types of decision-making processes,” explains Grant. “For example, with transit, we would ultimately be searching for what would be positive for transit and students, and we gather research and advocate on behalf of students in areas like transit and pass it on at the municipal level.”

Clement and Grant agree that they have benefited from their time with the CCSS and will continue to benefit from all they have learned.

“I even joked with one of my friends and said, ‘Go to Camosun, take your three classes of what you want, but join the student society.’ Really own something, and take on a passion and learn how a bureaucracy works,” says Clement. “You can actually effect real change and that’s a very, very cool feeling.”

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