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Full of community spirit: St. Mary grad Emerrie Geddes receives social justice award

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

Submitted Photo Now studying aeronautical engineering at Kingston's Royal Military College, St. Mary Secondary School graduate Emerrie Geddes has been named the 2017 winner of the Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland Social Justice Award.

Submitted Photo Now studying aeronautical engineering at Kingston's Royal Military College, St. Mary Secondary School graduate Emerrie Geddes has been named the 2017 winner of the Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland Social Justice Award.

COBOURG -- A St. Mary Secondary School graduate now studying aeronautical engineering at Kingston's Royal Military College has been named the 2017 winner of the Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland Social Justice Award.

The announcement was made at the agency's recent annual general meeting, as Doug Lloyd presented the honour to Emerrie Geddes.

Board chair Beth Bellaire explained in the press release that the award is presented each year, passed along by a long-serving champion of social justice to a new crusader in the community.

"In this way, the Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland celebrates both the old guard and the new vanguard of change," Bellaire said.

The $500 award celebrates a youth or youth group who:

"¢ Has dedicated time and energy to making positive social change and building a more just and equal society;

"¢ Has worked effectively to change those social situations, public attitudes, structures or policies which cause people to be excluded, impoverished or disempowered;

"¢ Has served as a leader, innovator, or supporter of social justice-related work, locally or beyond;

"¢ Has advocated for the rights and needs of low-income populations; and/or

"¢ Has demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of low-income residents of Northumberland.

One of the first things this year's winner did upon entering high school was to join the St. Mary Social Justice Group. Over her years at the school, the announcement said, she demonstrated her passion for leadership and serving by organizing homelessness initiatives, fundraising for and working with STOP (Students Together Opposing Poverty), arranging poverty lunches and volunteering whenever and wherever she could.

This year's presenter, also a Cobourg resident, is a life-long activist in the labour movement and a founding board member for The Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland. He has also been a constant volunteer at St. Peter's Anglican Church, helping with scouts and various other youth groups and working on the food drives or cooking up soup for their Souper Time program.

This award is being supported again this year by John Foley, the owner-manager of Foodland Cobourg.

"John is a tremendous supporter of Northumberland County. and sees this as another way of giving back to his community," the press release stated.

Geddes said she was thrilled to receive the award.

"It is a great honour to accept an award that represents something so close to my heart," she said in her acceptance letter.

"This award will "¦ present new opportunities for me to become aware of social injustice worldwide."

The Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland looks forward to continuing to encourage the next generation in the cause of social justice through annual presentations of the Social Justice Award at their AGM.

A plaque commemorating the previous winners is on display at the Cobourg office of the organization.

cnasmith@postmedia.com

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