Veronica Chan and Nadine Carter represent their hometowns as they become the 2016 Ontario Junior Citizen Finalists.
On March 20, 2017, Chan and Carter were recognized by the Ontario Community Newspapers Association for their continuous contribution to the community. Both finalists were acknowledged for their leadership skills and generosity towards others, being one of 13 award recipients across Ontario. The 36th annual Ontario Junior Citizen awards ceremony was held at Queen’s Park. This year, the event was hosted by Elizabeth Dowdeswell, lieutenant-governor of Ontario.
17-year-old Veronica Chan was awarded with the Ontario Junior Citizen award for her contribution to mental health issues amongst youth. Last year, Chan created an event called “Espresso-Self,” an open-mic night for students at her school to express their feelings through a safe platform. From social justice issues to stories of their own, Chan said students came to the event to voice their experiences and support others in the school community.
“What inspired me to create this event was when a couple of friends shared their story with me about their battle against their mental illnesses. It really shocked me and opened my eyes because you always hear about people having mental illnesses, but no one really talks about it. It’s so close to home, so I realized that it’s important to have this avenue of expression for students.”
In the future, Chan said she is planning on starting an organization to raise awareness and bring discussion to mental health.
Chan is also currently the co-chair of the Unionville Youth Council. Some past events she has coordinated include leadership conferences and weekly volunteer events at the Union Villa Long-Term Care for older adults.
Nadine Carter is the Stouffville recipient for the Ontario Junior Citizen award. At just 13 years old, Carter has given town-wide recognition to forgotten hero Captain Roy Brown, the soldier who shot down the Red Baron in the First World War. Not only did Carter get a new stone placed over Brown’s grave, but she has also had a hand in awarding the soldier with two plaques during a week-long celebration for Brown. Carter said her interest in history and her research on this soldier initiated two years ago as a school project.
“I got the project from my teacher, Mr. Sinclair, in Grade 6. When I was doing my research, his name just popped up. It didn’t look like there was a lot of information on him, so I started my project from there.”
Carter said she was inspired by Brown and what he did for our country, yet he didn’t get the recognition she thought he deserved. She is now encouraging others in her community to seek unmarked graves of other veterans.
The 13-year-old student has already begun her next initiative with Wounded Warriors Canada, a non-profit organization to aid wounded veterans from the military. Carter frequently donates to the organization, and has already donated $100 of her winnings as an Ontario Junior Citizen finalist to Wounded Warriors Canada.
Photo: Nadine Carter with Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell