Seventeen-year-old Telia Lafontaine of Regina has been named the recipient of the 2023 IBAS Young Community Leader Bursary, presented in partnership with Red River Mutual. This annual award was established four years ago to recognize one outgoing grade 12 student who exemplifies outstanding dedication to making their community a better place.
Lafontaine is an avid volunteer. She has contributed countless hours to such organizations as the Regina Open Door Society, CityKidz, Regina Treaty Status Indian Services, St. John Ambulance, and the Canadian Wildlife Federation. When COVID hit in 2020, Lafontaine — who is of Métis and Hawaiian heritage — led an effort alongside her four younger siblings to record interactive videos playing the ukulele, where isolated citizens in seniors’ homes could participate in sing-alongs and simple dances. These videos were accompanied by 1,000 handwritten greeting cards.
Lafontaine is also a burgeoning entrepreneur. She operates a small handmade goods business, Ohana Made Designs, and donates a percentage of her sales to support inner-city youth programs.
“We are humbled to be able to honour such an incredible young leader, who lives her values and exudes an infectious passion for building and giving back to her community,” says IBAS President & CEO Derek Lothian. “She is a role model for her peers and a force for change that has already made a remarkable impact.”
This year’s bursary attracted applications from more than 50 communities across the province. Shortlisted candidates were reviewed by an independent selection committee consisting of four prominent Saskatchewan business leaders.
With the $5,000 cash award, Lafontaine plans to attend the nursing program at the University of Regina in the fall. Following her studies, she hopes to work as a nurse practitioner in rural Saskatchewan.
Lafontaine has been previously named the Saskatchewan Junior Citizen of the Year and, in 2021, earned the SaskTel Youth Indigenous Award for Community Service.
“As a mutual insurance company, community is at the heart of who we are and what we do,” explains Red River Mutual President & CEO Brenda Gibson. “This bursary is a unique opportunity to celebrate a young leader who shares and embodies that very spirit. Ms. Lafontaine is extremely deserving of this recognition, and we are very proud to be able to partner with IBAS once again to deliver this valuable program.”
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