Thursday, May 11th marked the 8th annual Rural Youth Gala, which was held for a full house at the CVR auditorium. Fifty-two inspiring nominees ages 6 – 24, along with their parents, loved ones and prominent local officials gathered to celebrate the outstanding contributions of youth in the Haut Saint Laurent.
There were many highlights to the uplifting evening, including a series of videos that introduced each category from volunteering and citizen involvement to cultural action. The videos captured the spirit of the celebration and moved the audience with examples of life changing community action in each area of achievement.
NFSB Community Development Officer, Lianne Finnie (who also edited the evening’s videos) and Social Development Officer, Charles Gascon of the MRC du Haut Saint Laurent, introduced the many community organizers who helped realize the special event. They offered author Matthew Kelly’s words of wisdom to the crowd, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too old.’ Don’t say, ‘I’m too young.’ Whether you are 16 or 60, the rest of your life is in front of you.”
Huntingdon Liberal Representative Stéphane Billette’s deputy official, Connor Stacey, was in attendance and expressed his pride in the many talented and dedicated local youth being recognized throughout the evening. Even Billette himself made an on-screen appearance alongside Quebec’s Premier, Phillip Couillard. In a short video the two expressed that any young person who makes a positive difference in their community is an inspiration to us all.
This year’s edition held the theme Leadership and it was clear that many present and future community leaders graced the stage. Throughout the evening, five touching, live musical performances entertained the audience, while Masters of Ceremony, Rose Choiniere and William Orr introduced the talented youth and announced the winners.
The recipients of first place in their category were as follows: for School Perseverance: Jeremy Pauzé of Hinchinbrooke; for Environmental Action: Kristina Cullom of Saint-Chrysostome; for Healthy Living: Jessie Rochefort of Saint-Chrysostome; for Volunteer Work: Daniel Roberge of Huntingdon, ex-aequo with Macaden Galipeau; and for Cultural Action: Michelle Frost of Les Côteaux.
The highest award of the evening was given to Daphné Godin-Lemieux of Saint-Chrysostome whose respect and motivation has managed to change prejudices towards other youth. Madame Céline Ouimet, also of Saint-Chrysostome, received an award for being the dedicated youth mentor of the year. For a complete list of the evening’s award recipients and more photos from the evening, visit the Gala Jeunesse Rurale’s Facebook page.