When 17 year old Shawnee Paul received the news that she was awarded the esteemed Lieutenant Governor’s Respectful Citizenship Award, she was surprised and a little humbled.
The Lieutenant Governor's Respectful Citizenship Award recognizes students in grades Primary to 12, those who attend private schools, or those that are home schooled and registered with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, who are making a positive difference in their schools, their communities, and their province.
Shawnee would probably be the last person to think that she's deserving of this award, but in the eyes of those in her community, she's an upstanding role model. Chief Leroy Denny of Eskasoni sent a nomination letter on behalf of Shawnee, and in his letter he referred to Shawnee as a champion.
“I have known Shawnee since she was a little girl,” said Chief Denny. “I have seen her mature into a great person who exemplified what it truly is to be a leader and role model for our Mi’kmaq youth of Eskasoni.”
Dawna Prosper implements the NADACA youth program in Eskasoni and was asked by Shawnee if she could write a reference letter on her behalf for the award. Dawna was more than delighted.
In her letter she said, “Shawnee is a highly trained and certified swim instructor and plays an integral part in the delivery of the NADACA Learn to Swim Program. She has gained the admiration of many and works extremely hard at accomplishing her goals. Over the years Shawnee has learned to incorporate healing through laughter when helping others, and empowering youth by teaching them new skills.”
Dawna went on to say, “Shawnee carries great pride in being Mi'kmaq and is always eager to share her culture and language with others. She is a great community leader and role model for our youth.”
High school visual arts teacher Ron Martin was also happy to write a reference letter on Shawnee’s behalf.
"Right from the beginning I could detect something special about her," said Martin. "Her warm personality and friendly smile greeted you every morning when she entered the school. It wasn't long after that I discovered that there was much more to this young lady than meets the eye. She is intelligent, outgoing, talented, funny and a good friend to many.”
Now in her final year at Chief Allison Bernard Memorial High School, Shawnee had maintained honors with distinction throughout her high school experience, and in her spare time she tutors math, teaches swimming at the YMCA, and is also a musician. Her best instrument is the fiddle, but she dabbles with the guitar, piano, flute, and harmonica, and has been known to sing on occasion. Her love for music can be seen at high school and community functions.
Shawnee and her parents, George and Mary, were not able to attend the Lieutenant Governor’s Respectful Citizenship Award Ceremonies on February 25, 2015, at Nova Scotia Province House in Halifax due to inclement weather; however, they hope another date will be scheduled for her to receive the medal.