Jessy Lee Saas wrote an essay on genocide in Canada and it served as the springboard for a trip to the United Nations headquarters.
© Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy
Jessy Lee Saas performs a poem at the 2014 Saskatchewan Festival of Words poetry slam on July 18, 2014 at the Mae Wilson Theatre at the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre.
Saas, a former King George Elementary School student who is going into Grade 12 this fall at Central Collegiate, was one of four Canadians chosen to participate in an all expense-paid trip this past July to the United Nations, called the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth.
She was one of two Saskatchewan students who took part in the trip, which included touring highlights in Canada and the United States such as the Liberty Bell, the Brock Memorial and other sites in New York City, Washington and Ottawa. The trip was from July 3 to 15.
“We had UN speakers come and talk to us and then from what they said we had tow rite an essay and a speech on the topic, which is how do we end the cycle of poverty within,” said Saas.
“Then we had a competition. We were supposed to have it with United Nations judges, but because something came up at the UN they were unable to make it.”
The competition went on and she feels it went “great,” she said.
“I think everyone involved put our best foot forward with the time given. We only had two hours to write the speech,” said Saas. “To get onto this trip, we had to go through many stages.”
She originally heard about the trip from a family friend, who passed her information. The first step is to write an essay about a topic the United Nations should recognize or have a current affair in. Her topic was genocide in Canada.
“I definitely think it does mean lots to me, not necessarily in a personal way but because I believe that Canada has recognized the wrongdoings that they’ve done against First Nations with the residential schools. They have not gone past that,” said Saas. “The UN has not recognized the genocide in Canada towards First Nations is actually genocide, although they have recognized the holocaust as being that.”
Her essay allowed her to advance to the next round as one of six finalists for a public speaking competition this past spring. Her speech there was on the same topic and then she ended up on the trip.
“I learned so much about American history, which up until the trip I did not know anything about,” said Saas. “I learned about my own Canadian government. We went to Parliament Hill and walked around the peace tower and everything.”
In total, there were five buses and 46 kids from all parts of the world who took part in the sponsored trip.
“We had people from Canada, the States, Switzerland and Netherland on my bus,” said Saas. “You learned from each other too because of different schooling and stuff like that.”
Back at home in Moose Jaw, she is active in her school community between school athletics, academics and media abilities as one of the members of the Geek Squad with the Prairie South School Division in May 2012 for the National Early Years Conference.
Her trip to the United Nations was one to remember.
“I think not very many people know about the opportunity to go to the United Nations and speak about what you believe,” said Saas.
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.