MANITOWANING—The community, led by the Township of Assiginack, came together to honour a special young person from their community, Nathan Howard, who was nominated for an Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Award. Nathan’s nomination was celebrated during a meeting of council last week.
The awards, coordinated by the Ontario Community Newspaper Association (OCNA), of which this newspaper is a member, are handed out yearly to outstanding young people, age six to 17, who are “performing worthwhile community service, are contributing to their communities while living with limitations, have performed acts of heroism, excellence in personal achievements or are ‘good kids’ who are making life better for others and doing more than expected of someone their age.”
Rick McCutcheon, Expositor publisher, attended last week’s meeting of Assiginack council to present Nathan with his official certificate of nomination. The presentation was a surprise for the young man, who was told he needed to attend the meeting as his grandfather, Harold Clarke, would also be in attendance to hear discussion on area snowmobile trails. (Nathan, like grandpa, is an avid snowmobiler.)
“Our provincial newspaper association operates the Junior Citizen program, which seeks nominations of young people from the community. It’s a program that has been around for over 30 years—and, in my opinion, it’s the best thing that our organization does,” Mr. McCutcheon said.
The publisher noted that as the OCNA is the coordinator, and that as most of the province’s community papers are rural, a great many of the nominees are youths from rural areas of the province, like Manitoulin.
“Your community has seen fit to nominate you as a Junior Citizen,” Mr. McCutcheon addressed the nominee, explaining that while the presentation is normally done before a class or school the council meeting was chosen as Alton Hobbs, Assiginack CAO, was Nathan’s chief nominator.
“People nominate kids because sometimes they are heroic, they are seen to be solid citizens in the community, or maybe they’re leaders that get things done,” Mr. McCutcheon continued. He noted that the last nomination to come from Assiginack Township was for Skylar Trimmer who, at age five, kept a very cool hand and rescued his father by taking charge of the family’s fishing boat after his father had been knocked out and into the waters of Lake Manitou, throttoling back and coming back around for the rescue.
“You clearly are a role model,” Mr. McCutcheon told Nathan.
Nathan’s multi-page nomination extols his many virtues and with each letter of commendation it becomes exceedingly clear that the 16-year-old is community-minded and willing to give of himself for the good of others.
Nathan volunteers with numerous Assiginack groups, including the South East Mantioulin Lions Club, area churches and the municipality, as well as aiding seniors in need of a helping hand. He is also the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including the Matilda Burnett Citizenship for ‘going above and beyond to help others.’
He and two other friends also developed the successful Pucks for Prostate fundraising initiative for prostate cancer research, raising $400 last fall.
“Not only does Nathan give of his own time and things, but in his own quiet and gentle manner, he is teaching others to do the same,” the nomination states.
“His leadership abilities shine through because he is a ‘take charge’ kind of person,” the nomination continues. “Most situations in which he finds himself helping are ones that were not planned, but rather when he notices that someone needs assistance, he figures out what he can do to alleviate the burden and he carries it through. There is no greater definition of leadership than when a young man can see a situation in which help is needed and then carry out an action plan to achieve that goal.”
“In a world where volunteering is becoming less and less common among the younger generation and where lives are filled with screens and technology and where there is no real connection to the community, it is a wonderful sign that there are still young adults that stray from this norm,” the nomination states. “For a teenager who has given so much and never asked for anything in return, it would be wonderful if his community can be given the opportunity to thank him by bestowing this award on Nathan Howard.”
“Nathan Howard is a remarkable young man and is to be commended for his involvement in the community,” wrote Reeve Paul Moffat. “You only have to attend the different events to see him volunteering his time to ensure they run smoothly.”
“He is admired, loved and a strong component of the fabric that makes our homes, communities and country strong, safe and progressive,” wrote Councillor Leslie Fields. “Nathan truly is an amazing Junior Citizen!”
Nathan’s proud grandparents, Harold and Faye Clarke, were in attendance as was his mother Heidi and her partner Kevin Burnett.