A spur of the moment contest entry will be taking local high school student Cameron Smith across the country this April for one of four regional forums marking Canada’s 150th birthday.
After entering the Canada 150+me essay contest just before Valentine’s Day, Smith received word March 9 that she was pronounced one of 150 winners across Canada and will be given the opportunity to travel to the Vancouver forum in early April.
Smith’s mother had initially told her about the competition and sent her a link to the rules and due date.
“I didn’t think about it until I got an email telling me submissions were due at midnight and it was already 10:45,” she said. With that Smith sprang into action and created her winning essay. “The topic for the essay was what you think the biggest problem or opportunity facing your generation is.”
The competition was open to those ranging in age from 14 to 19 years old. Having a background from school and her personal interests in human rights Smith wrote her essay from that perspective touching base with each issue she felt important.
“I said that our biggest problem is our biggest opportunity, in that Canada has always kind of been this example for human rights and how we treat people and stuff like that, and now we’re seeing some places in the world being set back 50 years and now that that’s happening, how do we remain being this example and doing this in a world that’s not,” Smith said.
She added that one part of her essay was about First Nations issues and what they face, as well as a part about mental health, which Smith has been a vocal advocate for in her high school career.
“I focused a lot on how my generation is not afraid to be outspoken about things,” she said. “So I wrote about myself and what I care about and how I do things.”
Smith said she was in shock when she received the email telling her she had been chosen as one of the winners.
“I literally just started covering my mouth and screaming,” she laughed. “After I told everyone that I thought should know before hand I posted it on Facebook.”
Since receiving the email telling her she had been selected, Smith has been in contact with people working with the 150+me program and has received an itinerary that includes the Vancouver Aquarium, the chance to see the Rocky Mountains as well as other Vancouver sites.
“Vancouver has always been somewhere I wanted to go,” she said. She also shared that the featured speaker for the forum that she will be attending is David Suzuki.
“Even to get to see him speak…I’m so excited!” said Smith.
Currently she is waiting for her travel arrangement and information of the host family that she will be staying with during her trip. The conference in Vancouver will be taking place April 2 to 7 and is one of four across the country, the others taking place in Winnipeg, Montreal and Halifax.