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Cambridge teen reflects on Canada 150 experience in Ottawa


Published on July 12, 2017

Sophie Keddy posed for a photo with Minister of Heritage Melanie Joly, the opening MC of July 1 Canada Day show in Ottawa, during a recent trip to the nation’s capital for a Canada 150 youth forum.

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CAMBRIDGE - July 1, 2017 will be a hard Canada Day to top for Sophie Keddy.

The 15-year-old Cambridge resident celebrated Canada 150 while sharing the stage with a well-known singer from Quebec during the televised broadcast from the nation’s capital, and cheering on mud sliders making the most of the mucky conditions on a rainy day at Parliament Hill.

“On Canada Day we spent the day on Parliament Hill. In the morning we actually got to perform on stage,” said Sophie, who was in Ottawa as one of 150 youth participants selected for a national forum organized by Experiences Canada.

“It was really , really, really fun because we were up on the stage waving flags around and then the camera would go by you and, of course, that was the time the flag would get tangled up in itself,” she said with a laugh.

“Waving a flag is actually really difficult. It was windy, so the flags were getting tangled up and there were flags on either side of you.”

The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, shared by 13-year-old Berwick resident Mollie Campbell, spanned from June 24 to July 3. They learned of the opportunity to attend the national Canada150&Me forum during a regional event hosted in Halifax.

“It was a great mix of people and it was really amazing to be with 149 other people that were passionate about Canada, and it’s future, and wanted to make a difference,” said Sophie, who was selected for the trip based on an essay submission.

“We made so many new friends.”

The forum focused on experiential learning, leadership development, community engagement – and sightseeing. Participants attended the Governor General’s Awards on the Performing Arts; volunteered at the Gloucester Community Garden, Gatineau Park and Ottawa’s annual Picnic on the Bridge; and visited national museums.

They were also tasked with reflecting on what they believe will be the country’s greatest challenges and opportunities in the years to come, and preparing presentations for an audience consisting of business leaders, politicians and government officials, including Governor General of Canada David Johnston.

"We see Canada 150 as a milestone. It's not only an opportunity to reflect on our past 150 years as a confederation, but it's also an opportunity to put young people at the forefront of an exploration of the Canada we want for the next 150 years. So we started a conversation and challenged young people to help shape the future of Canada. We asked them to speak up, speak often and speak loudly," says Deborah Morrison, President & CEO of Experiences Canada, in a recent press release. 

"Have they ever! Seeing opportunities and overcoming challenges are very much parts of their young lives. It's often the small, early steps we take that can have a huge ripple effect. This will be our Canada 150&Me legacy – motivating thousands of young people to get more involved in their communities and to interest them in national public policy."

Sophie, a dedicated member of her local guiding group, has long understood the importance of volunteering within her community. The trip to Ottawa served as a reminder of this, and demonstrated the importance of also seeing one’s country as one big community.

“It was amazing to see that there are so many people my age out there who have the same kind of drive and passion to do something , and create a difference for your community… or for Canada in its entirety,” she said.

“You can do something that is making your community better.”