Lethbridge youth selected as honouree in Canada-wide contest

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WATCH ABOVE: An 11-year-old Lethbridge girl's submission on residential schools as part of a national contest for truth and reconciliation has landed her a trip to Winnipeg. Chris Chacon has the details – May 21, 2019

A Lethbridge youth received a special honour after being selected in a national contest for truth and reconciliation.

Her piece on residential schools landed her a trip to Winnipeg to join others who also share a passion on the subject.

“I was the only honouree from Alberta and that was a great excitement to me. I’ve never been selected like that before,” said Hazel Peel-Hodgson, Imagine A Canada Honouree, on Saturday.

READ MORE: New website launched for residential school survivors to decide fate of their records

She has a passion for writing and a keen interest in a subject that most 11-year-olds don’t spend much time learning about: truth and reconciliation.

“When my daughter, Hazel, first approached me with this opportunity to participate in this Imagine A Canada for truth and reconciliation, I was amazed that she would want to participate and engage and write a creative writing story that really encapsulates her thoughts and feelings about this tragic part in our history,” said Kris Hodgson-Bright, Hazel’s father.

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In diary form, her story called “Wolf Child” shares the perspective of a female surviving the residential school experience.

“I think it’s a good idea for us to heal our past and I think reconciliation is a great way to do that. Writing and lots of art really helps and that’s what inspired me for ‘Wolf Child’ and the contest,” said Hazel.

In an effort to accurately tell the story, she reached out to an Indigenous elder.

“She helped me understand what she went through because she is a residential school survivor and it was very sad for me to hear but I’m really glad I had the opportunity to hear and meet with her because I think that I can continue to help other people as well,” Hazel said.

READ MORE: Residential schools subjected students to disease, abuse, experiments: TRC report

“The more we can talk about this, the more we have a greater understanding of where we came from [in] this tragic part in our history and where we can move forward to again this truth and reconciliation, where we can come together as a country and hopefully learn from these grave mistakes,” her dad said.

Out of thousands of submissions, Hazel was one 15 honourees sent to Winnipeg for three days of workshops, speeches and recognition for her hard work on a subject that has impacted the lives of many Canadians.


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