Marlee Paul is only nine years old but she’s already been recognized as a community leader.
The beguiling Grade 5 student at Pictou Landing First Nation School was one of three recipients of the prestigious Sammy Gehue Achievement Award, which is presented by The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq to aspiring young leaders. In fact, Marlee took first place.
The presentation was held August 29 at the CMM building in Millbrook, where she met her fellow co-winners and accepted her trophy and the $250 prize that accompanied it. She was accompanied to the ceremony by her mom Jillian, father Sheldon and little brother Tatum.
Marlee knew she was nominated for the award but says, “I was surprised I won.”
She was thrilled by winning the award which, she says, she knows is for “active students.”
Active, when it comes to Marlee Paul, is an understatement. Marlee is involved in competitive gymnastics through the Pictou County Gymnastics Club in New Glasgow. One wall of her bedroom is crowded with ribbons and medals and a book shelf holds trophies, all of which she earned during her three short years in the program.
“I have 10 medals, two trophies and so many ribbons,” the precocious young lady beams as she counts her booty.
Marlee first joined the gymnastic club just three years ago and has been making a splash in the competitive realm for two years. She spends three nights a week training and practising at the New Glasgow facility.
She is also very involved in her school, helping other students, being a good student and participating in sports. “I like running club in school. I used to run five kilometres with my cousin.”
Marlee was nominated for the award by a teacher she had last year, Colin Munro, who cited her work in athletics.
“Marlee is involved in competitive gymnastics and has won many awards for her dedication to the sport. She puts in lots of practice and travels for provincial competitions. Marlee is also a great school citizen and provides help and support to both peers and teachers. She was well deserving of this award and I’m proud of her for winning,” Munro lauded.
The trophy that accompanies the award sits on the top ledge of Marlee’s bookshelf, sharing space with a jewelry box, makeup brushes and other trinkets typical of a girl her age. As for the cash award, Marlee has certain plans for it.
“I’m going to save it for when I grow up,” she beams.
The Sammy Gehue Awards began in 1993 to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of Mi’kmaq youth in areas of sports, school, environmental and humanitarian efforts or music.
They are presented by the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq.
Sammy Gehue grew up in Sipekne’katik Band, Indian Brook, the son of Stephanie “Ginger” (Gehue) Dennis and Dam Gehue. He was diagnosed shortly after his birth with a rare, inherited blood disorder, known as Fanconi’s anemia. He showed great determination fighting this illness and as a result, the “Sammy Gehue Achievement Awards” were developed and implemented in 1993. These awards honour Gehue’s strength and determination and are supported by the Chiefs of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq and by the staff.
Sammy and his mother attended the first awards ceremony and presented the winners with trophies and cheques. In December 1993, Sammy lost his battle with his illness at the age of seven. His spirit continues through the Annual Sammy Gehue Achievement Awards.
Marlee Paul proudly shows off the Sammy Gehue Award she won recently, presented by The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq to aspiring young leaders. (Jardine photo)