Former Citizen of the Year returns to Manitoulin and the family business

Former Citizen of the Year finalist Elyse Labelle of Honora Bay.

HONORA BAY— 2006 Junior Citizen of the Year finalist Elyse Labelle of Honora Bay returned to Manitoulin Island this past October after living and going to school in Ottawa to join her father Maurice Labelle in the family business Manitoulin Financial Queensbury Strategies Inc.

“I have recently completed my Canadian Security Course,” she said. “I am also working on an insurance course in order to be able to sell life insurance.”

Ms. Labelle was attending the University of Ottawa where she studied Communications and Municipal Business where she met her boyfriend who was studying engineering. “We looked around and realized that we would both rather be living in Northern Ontario,” she said, “so we set our sights on the Island.”

Ms. Labelle recalled her nomination as a Junior Citizen of the Year fondly. “It was an amazing experience,” she said. “To be there at the ceremony and to meet all these great people.” Ms. Labelle was just 16 when her neighbour nominated her for the award. “Mr. Burnford had put my name forward, I guess because of the community service work I was doing at the high school (Manitoulin Secondary School).” Ms. Labelle’s nomination was facilitated through The Expositor.

Ms. Labelle has always been involved in her community and church and, although she is just getting settled back in, she has already found a number of volunteer projects to sink her teeth into. “We haven’t had a lot of time yet, we have just settled in, so I haven’t been super active,” she said. “There is a Christmas Tea at St. Bernard’s (Roman Catholic Church in Little Current) on December 5 and my mom and I have been busy making crafts for the sale.”

Ms. Labelle said that she is reminded of why she wanted to move back to Manitoulin Island every time she goes to the grocery store. “There is just such a nice sense of community here,” she said.

Her father Maurice Labelle is pretty happy that his daughter has decided to move to the Island, beaming his trademark grin as he admitted that although the day is still a fair way off, there was an element of secession planning he hoped would be incorporated in the move. “Yes, there is a bit of that,” he said. “She has done very well with the courses.” Small wonder, as Junior Citizens of the Year tend to turn out to be very successful citizens in their lives.

This year the Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards are celebrating their 35th annual edition and are sponsored by the TD Bank Group and the Insurance Bureau of Canada, along with the Ontario Community Newspaper Association, of which this newspaper is a member.

The nomination deadline for the 2014 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards is November 30 and nomination forms are available at www.ocna.org/juniorcitizen, by calling the OCNA at 905-639-8729, extension 221, or by contacting The Expositor at 705-368-2744.