Marguerite d'Youville students won the help of a major Canadian bank to promote literacy this week after facing down a pride of corporate lions in their den.
Gazette readers may recall how école Secondaire Sainte Marguerite d'Youville's Interact Club launched the It's a Colourful Life colouring book last December. The book was meant to raise cash for local literacy programs and backed by a $2,500 grant from United Way.
Those grants were part of the group's 75th anniversary and were meant to help students make their mark on poverty, said Annette Malin, the group's community investment specialist in Edmonton.
Last Thursday, the group had 11 of the 20 grant recipients present their projects at a showcase at Edmonton's Eastglen High School. Projects included community gardens, clothes drives and cookbooks.
The top three projects were asked to pitch their ideas to The Lions' Den: a panel of four elite Edmonton investors that included Mayor Don Iveson modelled after the show Dragons' Den.
Grade 11 ESSMY students Roisin Cahill and Kasmira Warawa had to try and convince the Lions to take their school's book project to the next level.
The school had raised about $3,000 through book sales, but had hoped to get $5,000, they explained.
"We've saturated our market, so right now we're looking to expand our reach," Cahill said.
It was a nerve-wracking experience, but the duo say they managed to win the support of Lions' Den member Lynette Lohouse of the CIBC, earning them a second $2,500 grant and her mentorship. (Although the original plan was to have just one winner, Malin said the investors decided to give all three groups grants.)
Cahill and Warawa say they plan to use the cash to promote the colouring book and organize literacy coffeehouses to help immigrants and refugees practice their reading and speaking skills. Lohouse will help them add financial literacy to these sessions and may sell the remaining colouring books through the CIBC.
"Literacy is really important to us and should be important to everyone," Cahill said.
"The best way to empower people is to educate them."
Copies of It's a Colourful Life are $10 and available at ESSMY. All proceeds go towards the Edmonton Centre for Family Literacy and St. Albert's STAR Literacy.
About 28 city students will get a free lunch next week for their inspiring words about Canada's national anthem – some of which may soon be adapted into animation.
Some 28 elementary students learned this week that they had won the City of St. Albert's Canada 150th children's story-writing contest. The contest is one of the many events the city has organized to celebrate Canada's sesquicentennial.
About 60 students entered the contest by writing short stories or poems about how O Canada makes them feel, said Rhonda Egar-Lee, St. Albert's Canada 150th ambassador. Most of those students, and 18 of the winners, were from Muriel Martin.
"It's kind of special to hear (from) children in St. Albert that are as passionate about our country as I am," Egar-Lee said.
Neil M. Ross student Joe Lutick was one of the winning authors. He said he wrote about how the anthem made him think about "mighty mountains and the caribou running around the tundra, and also the good old hockey game."
The winners will get a certificate and a free lunch at St. Albert Place on June 9, Egar-Lee said. The federal government has also contacted her about turning the stories into animated short films.
"It's definitely something pretty special for the children of St. Albert."