Dawson College student wins Côte Saint-Luc’s first Irwin Cotler Award

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WATCH ABOVE: Madison Gold, a student at Dawson College, is the first student to be given the Irwin Cotler Award for community service. Global's Gloria Henriquez reports.

The City of Côte Saint-Luc handed out its first ever Irwin Cotler awards Monday night at city council.

The awards recognize the outstanding community service of two students, one in Grade six and the other in Grade 11.

“Irwin Cotler was, and continues to be, over the last five decades, a champion of social justice and we want to recognize and encourage young people to follow in his footsteps,” said Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.

READ MORE: Volunteers take better care of themselves than non-volunteers, study says

Hampstead resident Madison Gold, one of the recipients, recently graduated from Bialik Hebrew Day School in Côte Saint-Luc.

“Before the thing actually started, I had a bunch of city councillors come in and say ‘congratulations’ and it was just really interesting because I never experienced something like that,” Gold said.

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Her last name is fitting, as the 17 year-old shines bright in her community.

Gold has been volunteering since she was in Grade eight, as part of a school project.

“I was only going to do it four times for the project, but I really fell in love with volunteering and giving my time,” Gold said.

Since then, Gold has been involved in a multitude of projects, from preparing meals for those in need and mentoring students in her school.

Volunteering has taken her around the world.

Two summers ago, she travelled to Israel.

“We went to a place called ‘Save a Child’s Heart.’ We worked and we played with the kids for a couple of hours,” she said.

The kids were from Ethiopia and had just gone through a variety of surgeries.

“They didn’t speak English, but we just played with them outside and it made me feel so good,” said Gold.

“I was seeing them smile and just have fun.”

READ MORE: Volunteers power West Island community organizations

That spirit of selflessness inspired her school to nominate her for the Irwin Cotler award.

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“She really has the values that we’re trying to embed in our students, which deals with humility, modesty, giving back,” said Avi Satov, Bialik principal.

“It’s not about recognition, it’s about how to make the world a better place.”

Gold’s passion evolved into a career choice when she enrolled in child studies at Dawson College.

“It makes me feel amazing, I really love it,” Gold said.

“Even if I come home stressed afterwards because I have so much homework and so much school work, I still love it so much just because it’s something I love doing. I love giving back to the community.”