Youth leader heads to capital

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo Devon Courtoreille says he was looking forward to the opportunity to represent Hay River, the NWT, and the North at a national Rotary Club conference for youth in Ottawa this week.

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo
Devon Courtoreille says he was looking forward to the opportunity to represent Hay River, the NWT, and the North at a national Rotary Club conference for youth in Ottawa this week.

Devon Courtoreille has gotten pretty used to being a youth leader in the community, but this week he will be just one of many making a trek from across the country to Ottawa with the Rotary Club.

“I haven’t been told exactly what we’ll be talking about, but I know we’re going to be talking about all kinds of issues facing young people in Canada,” Courtoreille said.

But despite heading to a conference with 33 other youth leaders from all the provinces and territories, he said the thing he was most anxious about were the multiple plane-rides to get to Ottawa for the week.

The conference, called Adventure in Citizenship, is an annual event that brings together about 200 young Canadians to explore Canadian identity, shared values and the implications of the freedoms we enjoy as Canadians. Attendees will sit in on a session of parliament and get the chance to participate in their own mock parliament.

“My mum and my sister are worried about him, but I’m not,” said Devon’s mother Sheryl Courtoreille. “I don’t have to worry about him.”

Dian Papineau-Magill, Devon’s former teacher, said that although she got the ball rolling by nominating Devon, others in the community carried on to make the trip happen.

“I’m happy to hear they are still maintaining this project,” she said. “Devon will be an excellent ambassador for Hay River and the North.”

Devon leads a youth group based in Diamond Jenness Secondary School with a goal of talking about important things that aren’t necessarily covered in the regular curriculum. The group is now talking about human rights and international charters, there are plans to tackle issues like university prep for both in and out of the classroom.

Perhaps more than any accolades from international groups or even his own teachers and peers, Devon’s support comes from much closer to home.

David Schnyder, Devon’s younger brother, said he was proud of his big brother and excited for him, but it wouldn’t all be smooth-sailing.

“Woah!” David said when told what Devon would be doing in Ottawa. “But, I think I’m going to miss him.”

–Sarah Ladik