Meet the 2017 Winners
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2017 Winners

Following a four-way tie in the Under 30 age category, the fifth annual Everyday Political Citizen contest has produced five winners! These results remind us that true political leadership can be found in all communities and in all of us. Or in the words of Dave Meslin, Samara’s Chief Electoral Officer, “it’s everywhere, it’s plural and it’s diverse.”


Voted on by a jury of notable Canadians, including author Margaret Atwood, activist Desmond Cole and director Buffy Childerhose, the winners of the 2017 Everyday Political Citizen contest are: missing and murdered Indigenous women advocate Lorelei Williams, civic engagement mobilizer Janelle Hinds
renewable energy innovator Nabaa Alam, anti-violence workshop facilitator Teagyn Vallevand and mental health activist Noah Irvine.


Watch
juror Rick Mercer announce the winners:

  

 
 

Lorelei Williams
Vancouver, BC

 

Lorelei Williams winner

Lorelei is winner in the 30 and Over age category and was recognized for her use of art and community engagement to address issues of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
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about Lorelei Williams

Lorelei is the founder of the dance group Butterflies in Spirit which she began in order to empower Indigenous women in her community. It was also a way for her to raise awareness about her Aunt Belinda Williams, who went missing in 1978, and her cousin Tanya Holyk, who was a victim of Robert Pickton in 1996.

Beyond managing Butterflies in Spirit, Lorelei is the Women’s Coordinator at the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre. This non-profit organization addresses Indigenous social justice issues, and works to build stronger relationships between the Vancouver Police Department and Indigenous communities by promoting education, awareness and open dialogue.

Lorelei also volunteers for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Collation in Vancouver, which is a diverse group of more than 25 urban community and political advocacy groups and family members of the missing and murdered.



"I wanted to shortlist so many people, but Lorelei stood out for me not just because her use of creativity and art to address issues of tragedy and justice, but also because she does it all as a single mom. Thank you Lorelei, and thank you to all the nominees for your work to make your community better." 

– Matt Price, Juror

 

Janelle Hinds
Mississauga, ON

 

Janelle Hinds winner

Janelle is winner in the Under 30 age category and was recognized for increasing youth civic engagement and promoting STEM education in underrepresented communities.

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about Janelle Hinds


Janelle is the founder of Helping Hands, a platform to help increase youth civic engagement in their communities by providing better resources to help them find and complete volunteer placements while providing skill-building opportunities for their future careers. Earlier this year, her efforts were recognized by the Ontario government and she was awarded a grant to facilitate workshops that would encourage youth engagement and skill building particularly for minority youth in the Greater Toronto Area.


While working on her Bachelors of Engineering at McMaster University, Janelle realized her passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), education, and entrepreneurship and diversity issues. This year, she traveled to Ottawa as part of Daughters of the Vote, where she had the opportunity to testify to the Status of Women Committee about women in non-traditional fields and also discussed the importance of youth civic participation and mental health support for the black community.



"Janelle is supremely qualified as an Everyday Political Citizen. She has founded and worked on so many programmes–Helping Hands, Phase One, Daughters of the Vote–to change the game positively, especially for those in STEM for who don't fit the standard image." 

– Margaret Atwood, Juror

Nabaa Alam
Calgary, AB

 

Nabaa Alam 2 winner

Nabaa is winner in the Under 30 age category and was recognized for his contribution to the renewable energy industry and creating a more sustainable future for Canadians.
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about Nabaa Alam

Nabaa has made significant contributions in mobilizing the growing renewable energy industry. He was the Lead Process Designer in an innovative, renewable energy biofuels plant which received $10 million in Alberta provincial funding from the existing carbon levy. The investment will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering 112,000 tonnes by 2020–equivalent to removing 23,000 cars off the road for one year. Shell has recently purchased the technology licensing rights and is currently evaluating the technology’s potential to expand across Canada and the rest of the world. 
This project has been backed by the Alberta Provincial government and the Alberta Climate Leadership Team, as it was the first renewable energy investment by Premier Rachel Notley.

Nabaa’s goal is to improve current energy technology in hopes of creating a more sustainable energy future. His impact has already been recognized by both the national and international community.



"I'm nominating Nabaa because of his incredible work for the renewable energy industry in Alberta. His work converting canola into three products–bio-jet fuel, renewable gasoline and renewable diesel–shows how young Albertans are leading the way for Canada." 

– Senator Douglas Black, Juror

 

Teagyn Vallevand
Whitehorse, YK

 

Teagyn Vallevand 2 winner

Teagyn is winner in the Under 30 age category and was recognized for facilitating workshops on lateral violence for Indigenous youth.
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about Teagyn Vallevand

Teagyn, Tlingit name Aatagwéix'i, is a 21 year-old youth leader from Kwanlin Dun First Nations and belongs the Crow Clan—Ganaxteidi crest.


Teagyn co-founded Youth for Lateral Kindness with Aurora Hardy. Together, they facilitate and run Lateral Violence Workshops and Blanket Exercises all over the Yukon. These workshops are directed towards Indigenous youth and they address lateral violence—emotional and physical violence directed against one’s peers. The blanket exercise is an interactive exercise that tells the history of Canada from an Indigenous perspective and offers an excellent means to encourage reconciliation and bridge the gap of understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Teagyn and Aurora are often requested by First Nations Governments to do presentations on lateral violence at their annual general meetings. Youth For Lateral Kindness has been recognized on a national level by Cando, and Teagyn was among six youth from across Canada chosen to present on their National Youth Panel in October 2017.


Teagyn has served on the boards of the Northern Cultural Expression Society and Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and the advisory committee of Our Voices. She is very involved in the community and her nation of Kwanlin Dun and sits as a member of their government’s Youth Advisory Council which offers recommendations to her First Nations on Indigenous youth issues. When she has time, she can be found volunteering at many local events such as Blue Feather Music Festival, the Adaka Festival, and Yukon Native Hockey Tournament.


Teagyn attends Yukon College and is responsible for the coordination of her local Constituency Youth Council, which encourages youth to engage with the political system and provides her MP with feedback on the priorities of young Yukoners.



"Through her courage to speak up about violence, and her commitment to increasing dialogue and giving youth a voice, Teagyn is quite simply inspiring!"


– Julie Caron-Malenfant, Juror

Noah Irvine
Guelph, ON

 

Noah Irvine winner

Noah is winner in the Under 30 age category and was recognized for taking a personal tragedy and using it to push for a better national mental health strategy.
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about Noah Irvine

Noah started his journey of political action by campaigning for candidates in municipal and federal elections. He expanded onto the national sphere when only 40 out of 338 Members of Parliament responded to his letter about his personal experiences with mental health. Noah lost his mother to suicide and his father to mental health issues. Disappointed by the poor response, Noah sent out a news release. He started calling MPs’ constituency offices from Newfoundland to BC, asking them why they did not reply. The media picked up the story and it spread quickly. Soon, he had federal cabinet ministers and more MPs contacting him. He ended up having a 90-minute meeting with the PMO and a meeting with the federal Minister of Health. Members of the House of Commons and the Ontario Legislature gave Noah a standing ovation for his efforts to improve the mental health system. Noah’s activities reached the highest level of government when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called to talk about, among other things, Noah’s suggestion to have a Mental Health and Addictions Secretariat established in the PMO.

Noah’s work continues.



"Noah has turned personal tragedy into a rallying cry for systemic change. The courage he has shown in telling his family story and demanding a national mental health strategy is matched only by his determination in the face of complacency and political doublespeak. The inspiration of this 17 year old reminds us all that it takes only one light to challenge the darkness." 

– Kulvir S. Gill, Juror

 
 

Samara congratulates all the winners for making our country better and our democracy stronger!

 


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Samara's Everyday Political Citizen celebrates political role models and builds a culture of positive politics in Canada. The project aims to recognize the diversity of politics and democracy in Canada, crowd-sourcing hundreds of nominations for EPCitizens and celebrating some of the many thousands of ordinary people engaging in big and small ways in this country's rich political culture.

If you have any questions about Samara's Everyday Political Citizen,
please contact Sameen at sameen.zehra@samaracanada.com.

 

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