Thank you Samira, and thank you to Mr. Nadeau and the Minto Corporation for your support of CAYFO and the community.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to be here once again with Child And Youth Friendly Ottawa – CAYFO for short – and join in this splendid youth awards program.  It always makes me happy to be part of any effort to honour some of our younger, and most successful, citizens.


But before I present the awards, I would like to tell you a bit about what this small, but dynamic, organization called CAYFO does every year.  They manage to collect 2000 pairs of skates for needy kids and families.


For the past two years they have distributed 1,100 fully equipped backpacks to students in need.  In the next couple of weeks they will once again carry out their annual recycle cycle program. They also carry out leadership activities with youth, promote volunteering, and are always looking for ways to help youth to participate fully in our society.


In the past 12 months I have been involved with two CAYFO activities. The first is National Child’s Day, which was started by Senator Landon Pearson.  Every November we fill the chamber of the Senate with young people and they organize all the programming.


And that includes everything from music, dance, hip hop and the spoken word.  It is an inspirational event.


Perhaps even more impressive is the work CAYFO does to combat bullying.  Last March I was proud to be involved in Canada’s second national conference on bullying. Five hundred delegates from across the county came together in this very building to hear presenters from around the world. The conference was a huge success.


CAYFO is also involved in work in Ghana where they hold workshops, focus groups and events like this one.  Even more impressive, CAYFO does all this with a very small budget.


And so, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to share my time with this little organization that does so many big things.


I am honoured to be here this evening to present the Academic Achievement Awards.   Ladies and gentlemen, seventeen-year old Larisa Droll is virtually perfect in the world of academics. She has maintained a 98 or 99 per cent average in her high school classes over the past two years. But she doesn’t spend all her time studying or doing homework.  Larisa plays on the JS Woodsworth Field Hockey and Soccer teams.  She mentors and tutors other students at school.  She plays in the school orchestra, and volunteers with several local organizations.


She is a key leader in the cause to keep JS Woodsworth School from closing and has spent countless hours at meetings and writing briefs. Larissa also presented at the bullying conference here in March. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating the runner-up for the 2005 Award for Academic Achievement, Larissa Droll.


The next award goes to an amazing sixteen year old man from Notre Dame High School.  Nicholas Wright embodies perseverance, not only in his academics, where he excels, but also in life where he demonstrates tenacity, courage and enormous strength of character.


Nicholas was born with cerebral palsy and a number of other disabilities, yet he overcomes these difficulties and participates fully in the life of his school.  Through a specialized computer, Nicholas is not only able to communicate with his peers and teachers, but also give oral presentations and complete assignments with his specialized word processing system. I should mention that Nicholas is an avid Liverpool soccer fan and he will often sneak off with his teaching assistant to watch his favourite team play.


You may notice in your program that Nicholas’s favourite quote is indeed a song…..It is more than a song.


It is the anthem that is sung at the Anfield Football ground in Liverpool. It is an old Gerry and the Pacemakers song that can be heard sung by Liverpool fans.  I want to just read a few lines of this song as my personal tribute to Nicholas.


When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high,
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm,
There’s a golden sky,
And the sweet silver song of a lark.  Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone…
You’ll never walk alone.


Ladies and gentlemen, Nicholas is with us this evening, as are many of his friends from Notre Dame.  I am both proud and honoured to present the 2005 Award for Academic Achievement to Nicholas Wright.  Mr. Ray Nash, Nicholas’ devoted teaching assistant is here to accept this award for Nicholas.


In closing I would like to point out that both Nicholas and Larisa have distinguished themselves not only as scholars, but as citizens who have been inspirational in their schools and in their communities.  We honour them tonight for what they have achieved, and we look forward to hearing more about them as they move on to greater challenges in the future.


Too often we forget that today’s young people will be tomorrow’s doctors and scientists, lawyers and accountants.  They will pilot our aircrafts, build our homes, write our newspapers, serve as politicians, and raise another generation of Canadians.  We need to open wide the doors of our society to children and youth so that they feel welcome and valued as full citizens with rights, privileges, and responsibilities.


If Canada is to achieve its full potential as a nation, we need to recognize the capacity young people have to give back, and give back big time to their communities.


And if we want examples of giving back big time, we have only to look at the accomplishments of the young people we honour here tonight.

Thank you very much.