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Fort Hope youth receives governor general award

Thursday December 19, 2013
Eabametoong First Nation’s Hanna Waswa, 21, was presented with a Governor General Student Award for History at a ceremony in Rideau Hall on Nov.19.

Eabametoong First Nation’s Hanna Waswa, 21, was presented with a Governor General Student Award for History at a ceremony in Rideau Hall on Nov.19.

Waswa was awarded the medal after winning first place in her age category earlier this year in the 2013 Aboriginal Arts and Stories Challenge for a story she wrote called “The Peaceful Dead.”

“When I started this story, my main goal was to portray reserve life as accurately as possible,” Waswa explained in her author’s statement on the challenge’s website. She said the idea of making her story’s main character a girl who was coming home from high school to attend her mother’s funeral was one that she had “been playing with for a long time.”

Waswa identified with her character in the way that she also had to leave her home community to attend high school.

“While the tragedy is rare, the emotions and circumstances are a daily part of people’s lives,” Waswa said of her winning entry.

Alicia Dottiwalla from Aboriginal Arts and Stories said that Waswa’s story “recounts the emotions, familial connections and trials of a young person who has experienced the realities of life both on and off her home reserve.”

Waswa was invited to Rideau Hall in Ottawa to receive her Governor General’s Award from Gov.-Gen David Johnston.

“To be honest, it (the ceremony) was quite surreal,” Waswa said.

The contest is currently open and the deadline is March 31, 2014. More information can be found at www.our-story.ca.


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