Melfort Junior Citizen of the Year has made a large impact in a short time

Submitted Photo Josephina (Josey) Hovdestad has been named the 2024 Melfort Junior Citizen of the Year.

Melfort’s Junior Citizen of the Year has made a great impact on the community in a short time.

Josephina (Josey) Hovdestad, who is 15 years old and in Grade 10 at Melfort and Unit Comprehensive Collegiate (MUCC), was named the Junior Citizen of the Year after making impacts across various organizations through her commitment to volunteerism.

Hovdeestad said she was shocked by the news. She first heard it while in the middle of class.

“I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I was completely shocked,” she said. “I have been living in Melfort for the past three years and having this award given to me is such a big honour.”

In her nomination announcement, the Melfort Trade Alliance Chamber of Commerce (MTACC) said that Hovdestad has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to Melfort through community service, volunteerism, plus involvement in various organizations, leaving a significant positive impact on our community.

Despite only residing in our community for almost three years, Hovdestad has already left an indelible mark through her dedication to service and involvement in various organizations. Her rapid integration and profound contributions serve as a testament to her exceptional character and her commitment to making a difference.

Hovdestad has received a full scholarship from the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan to be a part of the SHAD Canada program, an annual Canadian summer enrichment program for high-achieving high school students held in July. The program is open to both Canadian and international students. The program is offered at 21 participating universities across Canada.

“I think my mom is my biggest supporter, she wants me to do my best so she helps me do things like SHAD,” Hovdestad said.

Hovdestad said that she does all of these things because of her nature.

“I love helping people, so I really like volunteering,” she explained. “Volunteering is one of the biggest things I could do to help people and I have got two jobs because I love working.

“I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t do everything that I do now.”

Hovdestad is also deeply involved in her Metis culture. She added that her mother is also a big influence in that area, since she serves as president of the Eastern Region 2 Metis Women.

“Through that, I try to help her as much as I can,” Hovdestad said.

“We did drum making and that was a really fun experience. Through my Metis heritage, I’ve been learning lots about lots more about myself. I just, love learning and I love my Metis side of me.”

Hovdestad was also involved in Youth4Change during the summer of 2023, through Melfort Youth Evolution, as a handful of local youth advocated at the provincial level for health issues involving vaping.

Youth Evolution’s efforts led to the passing of legislation which raised the legal age for purchasing vaping and tobacco products.

Melfort Youth Evolution is also a nominee for the Community Involvement Non-Profit Mel-Bex Award. She was already attending the Mel-Bex Awards but being named Junior Citizen of the Year topped it off.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “It’s the first time that I have been invited to go to an event like this and I was going to be going anyway because I’m involved with a group called Melfort Youth Evolution.”

Hovdestad was described by her nominator as someone who “demonstrated an exceptional commitment to Melfort through community service, volunteerism, and involvement in various organizations, which left a significant positive impact on the community.”

“I don’t know who my nominator was, but I appreciate it, I appreciate that they nominated me and that they’re seeing what I’m doing and that’s such a big honour,” she said.

Hovdestad will be presented the Junior Melfort Citizen of the Year at the Mel-Bex Awards on March 23 at the CJVR Performing Arts Centre in the Kerry Vickar Centre.

“I would really like to thank the Trade Alliance for having done the Mel-Bex Award,” she said. “It’s an amazing thing for our community to show how many amazing businesses and non-profits there are in our area.”