Townships Young Voices 2024 had 75 participants from across the Eastern Townships.





$3000 in Prizes Go to 15 Creative Youth

Knowlton, April 28, 2024. “You had to be there,” is what everyone is saying. A convergence of over 100 youth, families, teachers, and friends gathered last Sunday in Knowlton for the Townships Sun’s 2024 Townships Young Voices creative awards.

The gala saw 21 finalists recognized in poetry, photography, fiction, nonfiction, and $3000 in prizes were awarded to 15 first, second, and third prize winners.

Twelve-year-old Avigaelle Court of Compton, took first place for nonfiction. “What an event!” she exclaimed. “I am here for the second year in a row. Last year I got Honourable Mention, and this year I won!”

Ruohan Wallis, 18, won awards in both the art and fiction categories. “It is worth it to enter!” she said. Last year, Wallis won in the nonfiction category.

Another 12-year-old, Abigail Champs, took first place in art with an abstract painting, “Lake – 4 Seasons.” Juror Yong Sook Kim-Lambert of Magog, an internationally established artist, said Champs’ work “captures the essence of landscape and conveys the emotional impact felt by the painter. The simple movement and approach support each other in a very mutual way.”

TYVoices participation was up 50 per cent in this second year of the competition, with 75 entries from youth ranging in age from 10 ½ to 29, and from all across the Eastern Townships. Nine were home-schooled, four were not in school, and 62 attended one of 17 different schools. The prizes totaled about three times more than last year: In each category, a first prize of $450, a second prize of $100, and a third prize of $50 were distributed.

All entries were anonymized and then juried by local experts: Louise Abbot (nonfiction) Scott Stevenson (poetry) Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt (fiction) Yong-Sook Kim Lambert (art and photography). Abbott, a renowned Eastern Townships writer, photographer, and filmmaker expressed delight when she realized the nonfiction winner was 12: “I chose the winners based on merit,” she said. “I didn’t know the names or the ages of the participants.”

The Awards Gala was emceed by Ross Murray in collaboration with Ana Martinez and Arabella Macaulay-Fishman, the TYVoices youth coordinators.

Teachers played a key role in promoting the awards, especially to the younger students,” noted Martinez. “So we decided to create a new prize this year for most participants per school population.”

The TYVoices Team award of $250 will be shared by Richmond’s St. Francis Elementary School, with 11 participants out of 303 students, and the 9 participants out of 170 home-schooled students.

Graduating BCS student, Martinez joined the Townships Sun’s board of directors last year. “A big thank you to the teachers who brought these creative awards to the attention of their students!” she said. “This is a very special part of Canada.” Martinez, originally from Brazil, is planning to attend university in Toronto this fall.

We are especially grateful to our sponsors and funders,” said Marie Moliner, the Townships Sun’s Assistant Editor and 50th Anniversary coordinator. “Without their support, we could not have made these awards this creative and dynamic. We even had a mascot – Sunny, the grumpy toad – designed by multi talented artist Xania Keane from Newport, Quebec.

Funding partners were the Townshippers’ Research & Cultural Foundation, the Sherbrooke Rotary Club, Desjardins, Mme Geneviève Hébert (MNA, Sherbrooke), Mme Pascale St-Onge (MP, Brome-Missisquoi), the Tillotson Foundation for Coaticook, and individual donors.

This is volunteer-run event!” said Moliner. “It’s all about building a community of young Townshippers who can find purpose in being creative. Based on our experience last year, we know that some of them will become regular contributors to the Townships Sun.”

A special summer issue of the Townships Sun dedicated to all the Townships Young Voices finalists is to hit newsstands in time for Canada Day.




Featured Image: Townships Young Voices 2024 had 75 participants from across the Eastern Townships. CREDIT: John Mackley

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