Essay about Trudeau wins national contest for Courtenay student

Ariel Becherer had forgotten about an essay she wrote about Pierre Elliott Trudeau, until she heard it won a national essay contest.

MARK R. ISFELD Grade 12 student Ariel Becherer's essay about the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau won the grand prize in the Grade 9 to 12 category of the national A&E Lives That Make a Difference Essay Contest.

Ariel Becherer had forgotten all about an essay she wrote in the fall about Pierre Elliott Trudeau, until she was recently told it won a national essay contest.

“I’m very excited,” says the Grade 12 Mark R. Isfeld student. “It was something we did months and months ago, and then (school officials) pulled me into the office … so it’s sort of out of the blue, complete shock.”

Becherer received the grand prize in the Grade 9 to 12 category of the A&E Lives That Make a Difference Essay Contest. She will receive $3,000, plus her class, English 12 honours, will receive $1,000.

Her essay, Trudeau’s Legacy, outlined some of Trudeau’s accomplishments and contributions to Canada, which impressed A&E Network’s senior vice-president of corporate outreach Dr. Libby O’Connell.

“Ariel’s essay is a beautiful tribute to Pierre Trudeau’s life and legacy,” O’Connell says in a news release. “Her essay is also a perfect example of how Mr. Trudeau continues to touch and inspire new generations in Canada.”

Becherer says her 300-word essay touched on work Trudeau did concerning the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the patriation of the Canadian Constitution and Canada’s independence from the United States, particularly concerning multiculturalism and immigration.

“Today’s Canada is Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s legacy,” reads an excerpt from her essay. “He is the man who shepherded us from the old world, into the new.”

Her English 12 honours teacher Shawn Holland notes Becherer is a deserving winner.

“She is a strong student, but most importantly she is someone who understands that writing is hard work, and showed a willingness and a desire to improve,” says Holland. “She was not satisfied with just writing a single draft and leaving it at that, but was willing to put the time into revision and reworking her ideas.”

He also notes Becherer’s topic was a good choice and has current political implications: Pierre Trudeau’s son Justin Trudeau recently became the leader of the Liberal Party.

Becherer says the idea to write about him came to her when Justin Trudeau announced his leadership campaign.

As for the cash prize, Becherer says it will go towards a five-year engineering program at the University of Waterloo, which she just got accepted to and will start in September.

Holland plans to spend the $1,000 on classroom resources like books for the class library and possibly some technology, as he’s part of a group of teachers looking at using iPads in classrooms.

Submissions for the 2013 Lives that Make a Difference Essay Contest will be accepted starting in September. For more information about the contest, visit

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