12-year-old's LGBTQ history project 1st of its kind in national youth program

McKenzy Flowers, who identifies within the LGBTQ community and has same-sex parents, is one of six students in the N.W.T. who was chosen for the Young Citizens program.

N.W.T.'s McKenzy Flowers is among 200 students from across the country who could win trip to Ottawa

McKenzy Flowers, 12, is one of 200 students from across Canada who is part of a national heritage fair for a chance to win a trip to Ottawa. (Submitted by Lyn Flowers)

A student in Norman Wells, N.W.T., is the first to present a project on the history of LGBTQ rights in Canada for a national youth recognition program. 

In April, McKenzy Flowers, 12, presented her project — full of information about the rainbow flag, pride parade and past social movements in Canada — at Mackenzie Mountain School's heritage fair.

Not long after, someone from the program Young Citizens let her know her project was moving to the national level. 

"I was actually quite surprised... and I was also quite happy I was picked," Flowers said.

'I just wanted to spread awareness to people that LGBTQ rights are still very important,' says Flowers, 12. (Submitted by Lyn Flowers)
Young Citizens is a program, sponsored by the federal government, that gives students aged 10 to 16 an opportunity to share their history projects with people in different territories and provinces. Each year, 200 students are selected from across the country.

People can vote online for their favourite projects. The roughly 30 students with the most votes win a free trip to Ottawa, which includes a look at Parliament.

Flowers is one of six students from the N.W.T. who was selected for Young Citizens this year. Five more were selected from Yukon, and three from Nunavut. 

Flowers says her community and school have been encouraging her interest in learning more about LGBTQ rights — and teaching others about it, too. 

"I just wanted to spread awareness to people that LGBTQ rights are still very important," Flowers said.

'More confident'

Flowers chose her history topic partly because she has same-sex parents, and because she identifies within the LGBTQ community herself. 

She says her school's Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) group has helped boost her confidence. 

Flowers presents her project on the history of LGBTQ rights in Canada. (Submitted by Lyn Flowers)
She says usually students have to be in Grade 8 to join the GSA, but because her mom helped volunteer with the group, her school's principal let her join this year as a seventh grader. 

"It really helped me," Flowers said. "I'm really happy that I got to [be a part of the group]."

Flowers says her community and friends have also been very supportive of her and her two moms.

"A lot of people know, so I'm not ashamed of it or anything and I'm not scared that I'm going to get teased about it."

Voting for Young Citizens closes July 7. The winners will be contacted on Aug. 31 and will travel to Ottawa in the fall.