'I wanted to stay safe,' Manitoba COVID-19 vaccine scholarship winner says

Manitoba announced the winners of 10 $25,000 scholarships for people age 12 to 17 on Monday.

Total of $1.9M in cash and scholarships to be given out over 2 draws

Teens age 12 to 17 received $25,000 towards their future education through Manitoba's Vax to Win lottery. Some of the winners are pictured at the Manitoba Legislative Building with Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Minister Wayne Ewasko. (Thomas Asselin/Radio-Canada)

Emma Benoit's decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine didn't rest on the chance to win a scholarship, but that's what she and nine other vaccinated Manitoba teens received on Monday.

Benoit is entering Grade 12 this year and missed her friends during the pandemic, which was a major reason she decided to get the shot.

"I'm a very huge advocate for vaccines because in the past, they've proven to save a lot of us from situations that would've been otherwise a lot worse," she said at a news conference.

"I wanted to stay safe during these trying times."

People 18 and older who got vaccinated were automatically entered to win one of three $100,000 prizes in the Winnipeg health region and one prize of the same amount in each of the province's other health regions. Last week, seven winners were announced for those prizes.

Those age 12 to 17 were entered to win one of 10 $25,000 scholarships.

Benoit plans to use the $25,000 for a psychology program at Red River College after she graduates from high school.

The provincial government launched the lottery in June as part of its efforts to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

In total, $1.9 million in cash and scholarships will be given out over the course of the lottery, which has two parts.

To qualify for the first set of draws, people had to get their first dose by Aug. 2. 

Winner Shaira Garcia said getting the vaccine is important for the community and those close to her.

"I felt like I did something good towards everyone else and my family to keep them safe," said the Grade 12 student, who plans to use the money to attend Red River College, with the aim of becoming a chef.

The other eight winners are Kaylee Keefe, Chelsea Thiessen, Bea Catalla, Kaden Rozdeba, Kayla Harper, Crosby Wright, Ella Curtaz and Jordyn Recksiedler.

There will be a second draw for everyone who gets a second dose by Sept. 6. The date for that draw has not been set.


Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Email story ideas to