(Starting Dec. 22 and ending Dec. 31, GuelphToday will count down its top 10 stories of 2017.)
One of Guelph’s biggest newsmakers in 2017 began the year as an unassuming teenager who — after sending letters to every member of parliament in Canada about mental health awareness and suicide prevention — was recognized with a national award before the end of the year.
Noah Irvine drafted his letter, seeking to advance the discussion around mental health and suicide prevention, as an assignment in his Grade 11 Intro to Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology class at Guelph CVI.
When he sent the letter to all 338 MPs across Canada, he received only 40 responses by the end of the summer. Irvine then turned to local media to tell his story, which went national.
Since then, Irvine has met with the Office of the Prime Minister and the federal Health Minister, received a standing ovation from members of provincial parliament at Queen’s Park and was this year’s youngest recipient of the Samara Canada Everyday Political Citizen Award during a ceremony in December.
“I never wanted to use my parents’ deaths to get something in terms of recognition, I used it so people could understand what the actual face of mental illness and suicide is in Canada,” said Irvine in a December interview.
Irvine said the experience of writing the letters and his advocacy have given him the encouragement to pursue a university education.
No final decision has been made, but Irvine is considering applying for a Political Science program or History.
“I am doing a lot more than I ever though I could without a high school diploma. How much could I do with one and with a university degree?” he said in the December interview.