West Shore resident a finalist for title of Canada’s Nicest Person

Roots Canada has narrowed its search down to 10, including Langford resident Kristi Falconer

Langford resident Kristi Falconer has made numerous trips to the Tanzanian village of Jambiani since founding the charity Signs of Hope in Africa in 2003. (Photo contributed by Kristi Falconer)

In a country with an international reputation for being nice and polite, Langford resident Kristi Falconer is hoping to take home the title of Canada’s Nicest Person, but she’ll need your help.

The Roots Canada contest, being conducted in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, took nominations for the title from Canadians across the nation and the list has been narrowed down to 10. Online voting continues until June 18.

Falconer is the founder of Signs of Hope in Africa, a charity that she started in 2003 after she spent two months volunteering as a sign language translator in the village of Jambiani, Tanzania.

Since its foundation, the charity has contributed a number of projects to the poverty-stricken village, including providing breakfasts for children, helping families set up their own businesses and providing bicycles.

Falconer was nominated for the contest by friend Tracey Purvis, a former Signs of Hope board member, and she says the nomination came as a complete surprise.

“It’s a huge honour [to be nominated],” she said, adding that Canada’s reputation for having a lot of nice people makes it even more special.

As for what niceness means to her, Falconer used a famous quote from Gandhi – “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – to emphasize her thoughts.

“For me it boils down to being kind and I think that every single day there’s things that we should be doing in showing our true spirit in being nice,” she said. “To always be stepping up and doing what we can in supporting each other.”

If she manages to win, she’ll receive $10,000 for the charity of her choice. Naturally, that money will go towards her own efforts with Signs of Hope and the organization’s current initiative is to fund a solar energy program for the village, including panels for the school and a solar-powered cooker for the women who prepare food.

“We always follow their lead in terms of what they feel we can help support them with,” Falconer said.

To vote, visit Roots Canada’s website at bit.ly/2t2TxIo. For more information on Signs of Hope and to check out the charity’s online auction that starts on June 16, visit signsofhopeinafrica.org.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com