The 16-year-old Ascension Collegiate student always had an interest in history, but putting his thoughts to paper were a different thing.
When he was directed to the contest online, Gillard decided to take the plunge.
“I saw the contest and figured I’d give it a shot,” Gillard told The Compass. “I didn’t expect to win.”
Turns out it was a great decision. Recently he was awarded the Government of Canada History Award for the essay he submitted last month.
He was informed in June that he was a finalist.
Students were required to pen a piece based on one of five questions posed to them through the contest. They dealt with issues like women’s suffrage, aboriginal and treaty rights, Canada in the 20th century, this country’s adoption of responsible government and immigration experiences in Canada using two different groups.
Gillard chose the question on immigration and detailed the different experiences between the Irish of the 19th century and the Chinese immigrants in the 20th century.
“One of the paragraphs was about their reception in Canada and another was on the effect they had on the country,” he said.
Gillard turned to the idea of immigration after reading about Syrian refugees and the effect their having on various countries.
“It was pretty great (learning that I had won),” he said.
Gillard is one of 225 Canadian students to have their work recognized with the award. There were five students from this province who were selected for the award in total.
They others are Emily Dawe (St. John’s), Susan O’Brien (Corner Brook), Julia Abundo (St. John’s) and Clara Philips (St. John’s).
Each of them received $1,000 for their work.