PEI

Deep family tradition helps P.E.I. student win national award for quilt project

Sarah Laurin, 11, is one of six recipients across the country to win the 2019 Young Citizens award.

'I tried to do quilting. Not easy. Trust me,' says Sarah Laurin, 11.

Sarah Laurin is one of six recipients across the country to win the 2019 Young Citizens award. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

An 11-year-old P.E.I. student has won a national award for her history project on quilts.

Sarah Laurin is one of six recipients of the 2019 Young Citizens award.

Laurin said she chose quilts because they're part of her heritage and she wanted to learn more about them.

"We have a lot of quilts at home and my grandma and my great-grandma and probably my great-great-grandma have done tons of quilting," she said. 

"I tried to do quilting. Not easy. Trust me, it's not easy."

Over 100 videos submitted

Laurin says she'd watch her grandmother sew quilts when she was younger. She attempted her first quilt at 10 years old. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Laurin said she'd watch her grandmother sew quilts when she was younger. She attempted her first quilt at 10 years old.

When asked which quilt she admires as a family keepsake, she pointed to one her grandmother made for her aunt. 

"It's a story quilt, and it's all her and her husband's life before they got married. And there's like little patches that don't have anything in them which is for … them to fill in when they get older," she said.

They must be creative – using interesting archival images or visuals, film locations, or interviews – and turn their research into an engaging story for their audience.- Joanna Dawson, Director of Programs, Canada's History

Once she finished the project, she said she came away with a new perspective on the traditional art form. 

"Before, I saw quilts as pretty artwork things that I slept under that were nice and warm," said Laurin.

"But now I see them as … something that somebody took a lot of time to make … and there's like stories in quilts and I find it really cool."

Laurin attends École François-Buote in Charlotteotown, where another student, Stella Pendergast was awarded an honourable mention for her project from Young Citizens.

Winners sent to Ottawa

The Young Citizens program is the national program for heritage fairs and is organized by Canada's History Society.

In an email to CBC News Joanna Dawson, the director of programs with Canada's History Society, said to reach the national award level students must first participate at their school fairs and then provincially.

An example of a tie quilt. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

From there, students create a short video of their projects to submit to Young Citizens.

"They must be creative — using interesting archival images or visuals, film locations, or interviews — and turn their research into an engaging story for their audience," said Dawson.  

Dawson said 102 students submitted videos this year. Since the program launched in 2012, 10 students from P.E.I. have been recipients of the award.

Laurin said she spent just over two months on the project and was excited when she found out she'd won. 

"I felt like I had all the energy in the world."

Laurin will go to Ottawa in a few months to participate in Canada's History Forum, an annual gathering of leaders in history fields where she and the other winners will receive their awards.

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About the Author

Isabella Zavarise is a video journalist with CBC in P.E.I. You can contact her at isabella.zavarise@cbc.ca

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