Samantha Coonishish of Mistissini is this year’s winner of Quebec’s Lieutenant Governor’s award, given to those who have excelled in academics. Quebec Lieutenant Governor Lise Thibault made the presentation to the recent graduate of Mistissini’s Voyageur Memorial School during a ceremony in Quebec City.

The award represents excellence and dedication and targets the most deserving students. “Through this honorary gesture, the Lieutenant Governor wishes to acknowledge the merits of a new generation of resourceful, altruistic and optimistic young thinkers who represent tomorrow’s leaders,” says the Lieutenant Governor’s website.

“I received my award and she congratulated me and told me to keep on going and I said thank you. I shook her hand and got my picture taken with her and then signed a book,” Samantha said of the ceremony.

She pegs the award as her proudest achievement to date, along with the first place award she garnered recently at the regional science fair in Wemindji and the second place award at the Aboriginal science fair in Maniwaki.

Samantha recently graduated with very good grades. She had an overall average of close to 80 per cent, although she had not yet received her report card when she spoke to the Nation, so her overall average was based on three out of four terms.

Her dream is to follow in the footsteps of other successful members of her community of over 3,000 people and become a lawyer. She plans on attending the Cegep in Chibougamau and take what’s called a “Transition Program.” Here she’ll be able bring her grades up even more for College in hopes of eventually attending law school.

Samantha smiles proudly when talking about her future and becoming the first lawyer in her family. “Becoming a lawyer really interests me,” she says. “I don’t know why, it’s just something I’d like to become.”

At Voyageur Memorial, Samantha sat on the student council as the representative for her class and was also a member of the yearbook committee. Her favorite subject is English and she says the best thing she likes about school is the fun she has and the fact that she’s always learning new things.

Other awards Samantha earned throughout the year include a certificate of outstanding performance in recognition of top academic performance for the second term, highest achievement award for the second term, a certificate of academic achievement for the third term, along with the most creative award for History, French and English.

Even with all the accolades, Samantha remains humble. “I’m happy and glad. I just try my best and never give up.”

Samantha’s parting words are something we could all learn from: “Never give up your dream. Keep going, because education is very important. Remember, education is only the beginning of life and [it’s important to] realize that nothing is impossible.”

Samantha Coonishish would like to thank her family and friends for their support throughout her high school years. She’d also like to thank the school and her teachers for the help she received from them her entire senior year.

The Nation would like to wish her good luck in all her future endeavors.