Recent History – 2000
Sept. 1, 2000
By Cees Mond, Daily News Staff
First there were 500, then 50, and now there are only 11 left.
Dawson Creek’s Sharona Supernault won $10,000 and has become one of 11 finalists in the As Prime Minister Awards, sponsored by Magna International, Magna announced Thursday.
“I’m really excited. I can’t believe it right now,” Supernault said.
The 20-year-old Northern Lights College student, who will start her studies at the University of Northern B.C. in September, wrote an essay about the benefits of restorative justice, responding to the question “If you were the Prime Minister of Canada, what political vision would you offer to improve our living standards?”
Entitled “Justice or Jail: An Alternative to the Canadian Judicial System,” Supernault argues for reinstating the restorative justice model nation-wide. Restorative justice, which focuses on healing and allowing victims to confront offenders is widely identified with aboriginal cultures while retributive justice, with the emphasis on crime as a violation against the state, is more European in nature.
As one of 40 semi-finalists, Supernault had already won $500. As a finalist, she has won $10,000 and a paid, four-month internship at Magna International Inc., Canada’s largest supplier of automotive systems and components.
Supernault said finalists typically work in such departments as international affairs, law and design.
Other finalists include university students from New Brunswick, Quebec, two more from British Columbia, and six from Ontario. Supernault was the only finalist from the college level.
As a finalist, Supernault will also compete for the top prize. The national winner of the 2000 As Prime Minister Awards will receive an additional $10,000 and a one-year paid internship with Magna International Inc. The national winner will be announced at an Awards Ceremony in Ottawa on Nov. 8.
Essays of the finalists and the national winner will appear in a special publication titled “As Prime Minister, I Would …” that will be sold at Chapters bookstores across Canada and on-line at chapters.ca.
Along with the other semi-finalists, Supernault presented her Prime Ministerial advice before a national panel of judges in Toronto from Aug. 16 to 20. The panel includes notable Canadians such as journalists Mike Duffy, Arlene Bynon, Hubert Bauch, Joan Crockatt, and Linda Frum.
Supernault said the panel was very interested in her topic and asked her for examples and what the next step would be.
That would be reformative justice, she explained, where offenders not only repair the damage done by their crime, but use the incident to make the community in which they live a better place.
But that, she laughed, would be another essay.
The presentation and question and answer period accounted for 60 per cent of her score. Another 20 per cent was for the essay itself, and the remaining 20 per cent for academic achievement and extra-curricular activities.
Supernault maintained a 3.51 grade point average during her two years at Northern Lights College, and volunteers with Circle of Friends, in which she visits senior citizens who otherwise get little company.
“I also enjoy doing sports, like lifting weights and jogging,” she said.
She also drums and is contemplating using part of her prize for a new drum set. Otherwise, the money will mostly go to her education.
At UNBC in Prince George, Supernault plans to complete a degree in First Nation studies.
She’ll also be taking some science courses, because she has her sights set on medical school.
“I’m planning to be studying for six more years, so (the prize) will come in handy.”