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Central Saanich elementary student wins national writing contest

Keating Elementary’s Isla Verhagen won $10,000 for Habitat Victoria
Kelly King with Habitat for Humanity Victoria, accepts a representative cheque for $10,000 from Isla Verhagen, a Grade 4 student at Keating Elementary, while Kathryn Parfitt with founding sponsor Sagen looks on. Verhagen earned the prize with her entry in the Meaning of Home writing contest, the only one written in French. (Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Victoria)

Writing about the meaning of home en francais has paid off for a Grade 4 student attending Keating Elementary School in Central Saanich.

Isla Verhagen won a $10,000 prize to be put toward Habitat for Humanity Victoria’s local build program, after submitting the only winning entry in French for this year’s Meaning of Home writing contest.

Home isn’t a building, she said in explaining her essay.

“(It’s) more of a feeling of good memories and fun times,” she said. “I am lucky to have a home with people and feelings that I love.”

Habitat for Humanity Canada received more than 12,000 submissions, making 2021 a record year. This year’s contest also raised a record $300,000 for local Habitat for Humanity organizations across Canada, including $12,940 for the Victoria chapter.

RELATED: Habitat for Humanity provides six families with place to call home in North Saanich

Verhagen recently passed along a novelty cheque for her prize amount to Kelly King, director of communications and giving with Habitat for Humanity Victoria. Kathryn Parfitt, representative with contest founding sponsor Sagen (formerly Genworth Canada), joined the presentation.

Yolanda Meijer, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Victoria, praised the winning entry.

“Isla not only wrote a deeply moving and special poem, it also happened to be the only national winner or runner-up submitted in French,” she said. “We are thrilled to put the $10,000 grant prize into our build program.”

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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