“I was overwhelmed. I didn’t think I’d get the award,” the Grade 12 student said following a presentation that took place during class.
The awards are being given to students who have demonstrated that they can be positive role models for youth, be good citizens and to those who have realized what their goals are but need the financial assistance to accomplish them.
The 17-year-old Belhumeur has volunteered at the Parkland Health Region, Mont St. Joseph and group homes. She is a competitive wrestler striving to be a provincial and national champion, and she plans to put the money she received toward studying engineering at the University of Saskatchewan.
Belhumeur, who has had to overcome many obstacles in her life, said her success in sports has translated into success in her studies.
“I’ve been in foster care for like a decade now, and so moving from place to place is really hard,” she said. “Once I got involved with sports, I did a lot better. I did well academically, and I just realized that I had a lot more to offer.”
The $1,000 scholarships are being drawn from a $5,000 prize that the Prince Albert Police Service’s Const. Matthew Gray and Sgt. Brent Kalinowski received as part of the Minister of Justice National Youth Policing Award last year.
“Part of our work with Community Mobilization is youth,” Kalinowski said. “We joined with our education representative Shelley Storey and decided we’d give an award back to the youth of the city who were achieving and overcoming obstacles at the same time.”
Kalinowski said they are considering giving out the awards on an annual basis.
“We wanted to give back to the (youth in the) community that we were serving and help facilitate change for them,” he said. “Tashawna is just an outstanding example of that. What she’s overcome is truly remarkable.”
While plans have not been finalized, the leftover $2,000 from this year’s amount might be used for video contests that are geared toward youth and are community-oriented, according to Kalinowski.
Candidates were selected based on an application and nomination process. Carlton Comprehensive High School counsellor Brent Holmen handpicked Tashawna for the award, a decision that was met with no hesitation from the two other counsellors who were selecting students alongside him.
“When I started looking through students and whether or not they suited the criteria for this award, her name just kind of jumped out at me,” he said, estimating that there might have been 20-30 nominees from Carlton.
Holmen had notified Belhumeur that she had won the award in person during class.
“Tashawna’s always thinking forward rather than backward,” he said. “I don’t think she ever really lets whatever her past history was to impede with what she wants to do with her life. If nothing else, she probably feels that it makes her stronger.”
Two other students will be recognized with the award. Cydnie Patrick of St. Louis Community Public School will receive her award Thursday, while Canwood Community School student Lynette Cain will receive her award Friday.
The awards that the students receive will be paid directly to the institutions of their choosing. Recipients are expected to participate in and complete their identified activity.