Sylvan Lake teacher Julie Lapointe has been named the 2019 citizen of the year by A Better World Canada (ABW), an international development organization based in Lacombe.
Lapointe teaches high school science at Sylvan Lake Campus and has worked with the volunteer organization for 15 years, beginning in Grade 10 when she accompanied her mother on a humanitarian trip to Kenya.
“If I can get a few students interested in continuing to make positive change, then that would be the biggest impact I could make as a teacher.”
— Julie Lapointe
“She could see in me that I had that humanitarian spirit,” says Lapointe, “At that young age, to get that perspective, it altered the way I think.”
Lapointe says that first trip to Kenya had a life-changing effect. She continued her work with ABW throughout high school.
“We fundraised in our little club at H. J. Cody High School in Sylvan Lake and in that little club, with just a few students, we fundraised for a small rural school in a place called Kiprengwe in Kenya.”
While attending the University of Lethbridge, Lapointe also organized a fundraiser for the 100 Classrooms project in Afghanistan. As a teacher, she now hopes to instill her sense of humanitarian engagement to her students.
“It’s getting kids involved, getting today’s generation engaged in making a difference, a positive change in their world,” says Lapointe, “Even just getting them to think beyond their walls or their town or their school and doing what they can to make a positive change.”
Lapointe was drawn to A Better World Canada because of its aid philosophy. She says ABW focuses on sustainable projects. It sends people to places like Kenya, Rwanda and Bolivia to train the citizens, teaching them skills that can be used long after the organization has left. She was also impressed with the organization’s co-founder.
“Eric Rajah is quite the hero of mine and he’s a phenomenal human. I don’t know how to say it other than that,” says Lapointe.
It was Rajah who presented Lapointe with the award on April 7. He said the award is given to people who are modelling what it means to create a better world. With this being the 10th anniversary of Lapointe’s school project in Kenya, Rajah felt it was the perfect time to give her this award.
“Every year she has consistently done something,” he said. “She also inspires her family to do something every year.”
Lapointe hopes to continue with her dedication to humanitarianism. She has started a humanitarian club at Sylvan Lake Campus. She wanted the students to be a part of the award celebration as well.
“It was important for me to get them the recognition because I do think it motivates them to continue engagement in volunteering and humanitarian efforts,” Lapointe said. “If I can get a few students interested in continuing to make positive change, then that would be the biggest impact I could make as a teacher.” ❚