LAC LA BICHE - The 2022 Junior Citizen of the Year Award went to Samantha Onciul in recognition of her volunteer efforts and dedication to the Lac La Biche community. The 17-year-old was a part of a long list of nominations for this year's award that was presented during the annual Light Up the Night parade on Thursday.
What separated Onciul from the nominees was her commitment to showing up over the years, said County Coun. Charlyn Moore, who presented the award during the event.
For Onicul, the award was a surprise that was very much appreciated.
“I was really excited when I found out. I wasn’t expecting it all,” she said after hearing from her mother, Pam, that she was not only nominated but won.
The award comes with a plaque along with the job of lighting up the massive Christmas tree adorned with lights on Main Street, following the Light Up the Night parade.
Onicul spends much of her time in the community teaching at the Northern Beats Dance Academy in Lac La Biche. She also has participated in the Interact Club at J. A Williams High School giving back to the school community through fundraisers and social events. She also helps with the Lac La Biche Girl Guides and regularly volunteers at Big Brothers Big Sisters, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and more.
Her favourite part about giving back to the community is centred around supporting youth, she says.“I love helping people and giving back to my community.”
As a result, after graduating high school this summer, Onicul plans to go to university and pursue a career in social work or become a child life specialist.
For one of Onicul’s nominators, the award given to the 17-year-old is no surprise considering the many hats she wears in the community and her positive attitude, according to Kim Hughes, the Northern Beats Dance Academy’s special events coordinator.
“She’s an all-round wonderful girl who puts her whole heart and soul into everything she does… We’re pretty proud of her.”
While giving back to the community helps support programs and activities, Onicul says it’s also a great place to make friends and learn new things.
“It’s good to volunteer in your community and it's also fun. You get to meet a lot of new people, make friends and get a lot of different experiences.”