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Thursday, 13 July 2017 03:59

Swift Current resident gets ultimate Canada Day experience

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Having the chance to spend Canada Day on Parliament Hill for any patriotic Canadian would be an opportunity of a lifetime — something that Swift Current Grade 11 student Sara Cronan just did.

As part of a nine-day adventure, Cronan was one of 150 Canadian youth who had the opportunity, through her work and diligence, to earn a spot in the Canada 150&Me competition. The goal of Canada 150&Me was “to involve thousands of young Canadians in a conversation about Canada’s future, encouraging young people to take a leadership role in celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.” Canada 150&Me was a Canada 150 initiative funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage and Experiences Canada (previously known as SEVEC) plus private sponsors’ support.
The Swift Current student was selected to go to one of four regional forums in April through entering a contest. The forums were meant to create dialogue and discuss prevalent social issues such as mental health, environment, LGBTQ and  diversity issues. From those forums, Cronan was selected as one of the 150 students to go to Ottawa in July. One of the criteria was to demonstrate what Canada means to them and the Swift Current resident wrote a poem. (See box to right).
Cronan, 16, who was only one of eight Saskatchewan residents selected, was gone for nine days taking part in activities culminating in the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill.
“I was pretty into it and learned some things,” explains Cronan. She helped get a debate club at All Saints School in Swift Current started last year and was also part of the Swift Current high- school’s business club amongst other roles with the school.
According to a release, Canada 150&Me activities included the Governor General’s Awards on the Performing Arts; volunteering at the Gloucester Community Garden, Gatineau Park and Ottawa 2017’s ‘Picnic on the Bridge’; as well as visiting Parliament Hill and national museums. They also had key roles to play in the Canada 150 celebrations, performed in the Canada Day noon hour show, and acting as National Gallery “teen docents for a day,” and talked to visitors about their favourite pieces in the Canadian Art Collection.
They also had the opportunity to listen to guest speakers which included Perry Bellegarde the Assembly of First Nations National Chief; MP Will Amos; Governor General David Johnston and author and biographer Charlotte Gray.
While Cronan enjoyed the Canada Day ceremonies, it was the forums and speakers she really savoured. She pointed to the human library where experts in their respective fields were available for questions and the chance to listen to and exchange thoughts, stories and ideas with her peers from across the country. This culminated in forum day where it was a more formal discussion.
She said listening to the stories of First Nations peers and speakers, her eyes were definitely opened wider to a lot of areas of interest.
In general, she said while young people are basically the same, the interests and what they are passionate about is different.
“We have different passions. Vancouver students for example are passionate about the environment. Listening to those talk about indigenous rights really (spoke to me). It exposed me to what they went though,” says Cronan. “It was really good to hear all their stories.
“I was really honoured to have the chance to hear them. I’m really passionate about human rights; women’s and youth rights. I think with this, we showed governments should listen to us (young people)as we are the ones coming up.”
Cronan says returning to Swift Current, she wants to be able to implement some of the things she learned and put them into practice in southwest Saskatchewan. This will include writing letters to politicians when she feels there is injustice such as with indigenous rights as well as taking part in youth groups and trying to help make a difference for the betterment of those around her.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor