| Saskatchewan Junior Citizen of the Year
Citizen of the Year 2006 Biographies
This remarkable young woman had not one nominator, but three. All them guide and mentor her at Regina?s F.W. Johnson Collegiate. Teachers Kyla Wendell and Joyce Vandall, in addition to principal Len Brehelle, use words such as selfless, caring, positive, determined, and generous to describe her. Adila is truly a special person.
Adila comes from Afghanistan, and, as a refugee, life has not been easy. When she was very young, her family was forced to flee their war-torn homeland. It was at that tender age she began to develop her sense of responsibility and self-reliance, as she cared for herself and family members. When she came to Canada a short six years ago, Adila had to learn to speak, read, and write English. She comes from a large family. Despite the challenges this remarkable young woman has faced, she has overcome her difficulties and become very successful.
Although Adila has adapted well to life in Canada, she has never forgotten how challenging life here seemed at first. She is always the first to volunteer to help a struggling student or offer friendship to a newcomer. Adila is always willing to give time to those who need help. She volunteers at the school library?s English as a Second Language program, tutoring other students that need assistance. Adila is also involved with Regina?s Open Door Society, a non-profit group that since 1976 has been helping refugees and immigrants become part of Canadian society. There she translates for newcomers.
Ever eager, Adila is very involved with her community, mosque and school. She was instrumental in organizing school activities like Diversity Day, a multicultural event promoting peace and cultural appreciation. Adila not only performed at the event, she also helped plan and promote it. Other school activities include the Environment Club and the Spirit Team. She has also written for the Regina Leader Post?s Minus 20 section.
This outstanding young person dreams of being a social worker, and is attending the University of Regina this fall. Having had a part-time job since the age of 16, Adila has been putting money away in an ?educational nest-egg.? When she began her post-secondary studies this fall, she had some five-thousand dollars to put toward her schooling.
Adila cherishes life in Canada. In her own words, ?It is a privilege to be a Canadian citizen; it is something I dearly cherish with pride and honour?my hopes and dreams are coming true. At times I feel I am dreaming. If I am, I hope I never wake up.?
Christa Lynn Bruneau
Christa's nominator, Carmel Bruneau, says without her daughter, she would have been lost. High praise from a mother. But this impressive young woman is very deserving. For the past seven years, life has challenged her in every possible way, but she always rose to meet the occasion.
Involved at school, Christa takes part at every level she can. She has been part of both the Student Representative Council, along with the yearbook. She plays volleyball. For three years, Christa helped her mother run a hot lunch program to raise money for Tele-miracle. She has been on the graduation decorating committee for the past five years. Three years ago, Christa became a full lifeguard. She has been part of a Relay For Life team; not once, but twice. And this year, Christa was the valedictorian for her graduating class.
An impressive resume. But it becomes much more so when you take into account the personal challenges Christa has faced.
Eight years ago, Christa's little sister, Alexis, became very ill. To receive treatment, Alexis and her mother were forced to travel to the Toronto Sick Children?s Hospital. Away for months at time, it was up to Christa to keep the household running. As Carmel Bruneau put it, 'All children need their mothers; girls especially when they are growing up, Christa managed the house and also worked every day after school, without Christa's support at home, things would have been so much harder on everyone.'
Christa's mom says Alexis' sickness is why the eighteen-year-old has chosen to seek a career in the profession of nursing. Carmel Bruneau says, 'Christa has wanted to be a nurse since the very first day her little sister became ill. She wasn't very old [when] she helped me [give Alexis] intravenous medication around the clock for four months.'
When Christa was fifteen, her mother contracted West Nile virus. She became the primary caregiver for her little sister. Her mother says, 'I remember lying in the hospital, too sick to care about much, other than who was taking care of Alexis. Christa would climb up on the bed and lay with me to tell me about how she had it all covered and not to worry about it. I was so proud of her'
The past year has also been a challenge for Christa. Her mother made the decision to return to school. Which meant mom and little sister had to move to Moose Jaw, returning home to Willow Bunch only on the weekends. Christa looked after the family home, and also worked after school, while continuing to maintain the highest of academic records.
But as before in her young life, this outstanding young person hasn't skipped a beat, and continues to strive toward her goals of saving lives and making a difference.
'What would Mike do?' is an oft-heard phrase in the halls of the Weyburn Comprehensive School. It is used in reference to a remarkable young man named Mike Ehman. The eighteen-year-old's enthusiasm and positive energy are two of the qualities which made him an ideal candidate for the SaskEnergy Community Spirit award.
Mike can often be seen working with special needs kids. He is a committed member of the Weyburn Comp's Special Education Team. Mike is a leader, with the ability to work cooperatively or, if needed, take control of a situation. When he walks into the room, Mike puts everyone at ease, and you always look forward to spending time with him. He has been described as the 'ultimate role model.'
Taking into account Mike's high level of commitment scholastically, it is his family that tops his list of priorities. He is the oldest of three boys, and both parents work. As at school, Mike accepts his leadership role at home with relish, helping his mom and dad however he can. He adores his grandmothers, and is always there for them. One of the jobs he more than willingly shoulders is acting as chauffeur for his younger siblings and his grandparents.
Athletics are also important to Mike. He is involved in volleyball, basketball, hockey, and water polo. Over the past year, Mike has volunteered as an elementary school coach, and organized a volleyball skills clinic for grade sixers.
Mike is also musically-inclined. He has starred in many school musical productions, and has been involved in the school choir for two years now.
Mike's involvement in extracurricular activities is impressive. He mentors for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and speaks on behalf of the RCMP'S Drug Abuse Resistance Education to elementary students. An accomplished musician, Mike plays bass guitar, piano, drums and alto sax. He also writes music.
Most recently, Mike represented his school at the national level. He and partner Colby Mainil began their trip to Quebec by winning a gold medal at the Southeast Regional Science Fair in March. They designed a wheelchair capable of climbing a step or curb. In May, they took their invention to Quebec City, taking gold again in the Engineering Division of the Canada Wide Science Fair. In addition to the prestige of winning a national award, both boys walked away with thousands of dollars in scholarship money.
Mike will be able to put that money to work immediately. He dreams of becoming a doctor, and intends to pursue his schooling here. It is important to Mike he remain in the province, so he can give back once he has finished his medical training.
One of the phrases used in Mike's nomination to describe him is 'the highlight of our day.' Another is that he 'makes every activity that much better.' High praise for a young man with a bright future.
John Hodgens, in his nomination for Kathryn Kitchen, described this young woman as bright, enthusiastic, motivated, and driven. Kathryn has contributed to her community, in just 18 years, in ways that most only dream of. She is an active and important part of what happens in Estevan.
As co-president of the student representative council at the Estevan Comprehensive School, she has organized events ranging from talent shows to school dances. That has allowed Kathryn the opportunity to communicate how important it is that the talents of youth should be appreciated and encouraged. The active teenager captained the senior girls soccer team this past year, bringing to an end an association she has with the team since grade 9. Kathryn's athletic abilities are not confined to the soccer pitch. She is a competitive figure skater, and competes in the sports of badminton, floor hockey, and curling.
Kathryn is also vice-president of her school's Students Against Drinking and Driving chapter. She is also a SADD Saskatchewan District 1 representative. To that end, she has played a key role in communicating the message of how important it is to be a sober driver. It is something she takes very seriously.
Kathryn also takes seriously the fight against cancer. This determined young woman accomplished an amazing feat this year.
The Canadian Cancer Society's annual Relay For Life happens in hundreds of communities across Canada. The Relay For Life raises millions of dollars for cancer research. It has happened in past in several Saskatchewan cities and towns, but never in Estevan. This year that changed, thanks to Kathryn. She organized the town's first-ever Relay For Life. That should come as no surprise, though. Kathryn's commitment to health is obvious when you consider her intention to seek a medical degree, then further specialize in oncology, the branch of medicine dedicated to the treatment and prevention of cancer.
Kathryn loves children. She is currently the coordinator of Estevan Minor Hockey's learn to skate program. Kathryn was 16 when she took that responsibility on, becoming the youngest person ever to take the position.
This outstanding young woman's attitude can be summed up with one simple quote. Kathryn is often heard to say, 'If god made you able to think it up, it can be done.'
'The world needs more Robert Marshalls.' That quote came from Nicole Dulle, one of the many people who wrote on behalf of this extraordinary young man, in support of his application to become a Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association/SaskPower Junior Citizen of the Year.
The road to tonight has been anything but easy, though. Robert Marshall's life has been marked by loss. But, at the same time, he has met those challenges head on, with a positive attitude can-do attitude, and risen above them. He is truly a testament to the power of the human spirit.
As a child, Robert's life was touched twice by tragedy. He was involved in a car accident that took the life of his father, and left him with a head injury. Robert suffered temporary deficits to his right leg, some short term memory loss, and, to this day, has problems with his right hand.
It was a long road back for Robert Marshall. He had to undergo intensive speech and physical therapy. For a time, Robert had to wear a helmet while at school, to prevent further physical injury. It was then he first had contact with his nominator, nurse and former teachers' aid Lana Antoine. Lana was involved in Robert's physical rehabilitation. She tells the story of one day at school when she rescued him from a sled that was coming directly at him. Robert looked up at her, and said, 'You are my guardian angel.'
The tragic circumstances of Robert's life did not stop there. More recently, Robert lost his little brother, who suffered from a physical disability. Robert took part in all aspects of his younger sibling's care, from giving him medicine to helping provide physical therapy.
Today, Robert is described as a selfless, spiritual, motivated and energetic young man. He helps out on the family dairy farm, and is on student council at Indian Head High School. Robert is known for his public speaking and, sometimes, singing. His infectious sense of humour is a powerful tool; his ability to lift spirits is directly tied to it.
Robert's latest achievements are in the world of track and field. He participates mainly in distance events. And he put that talent to good use this past year. Through a series of fundraisers he organized himself, Robert managed to raise the six-thousand dollars he needed to go to Rome in March and take part in a marathon for Team Diabetes. This past summer, he travelled to Iceland where he ran a full marathon, also in support of the Canadian Diabetes Association.
'An unsung hero' is how Indian Head High School vice-principal John Harvey describes this outstanding young man. There is no doubt this leader and volunteer with the infectious sense of humour has a brilliant future ahead of him.
Junior Citizen of the