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Four Yukon youth granted achievement awards

Four Yukon youth are being awarded for their community contributions.
Aliya Grant, left, receives a Yukon outstanding youth acheivement award from Governor General Mary Simon and Yukon Comissioner Angélique Bernard. Bernard said Grant earned the award by always being present at events in her community and helping set up programs for youth. (Jim Elliot/Yukon News)

Four Yukon youth are being awarded for their community contributions.

The Yukon government’s Youth Achievement Award is distributed annually. Each winner receives $250 from the Yukon Youth Directorate, a certificate and a medallion from the Yukon Commissioner’s office.

Each of the four will also be featured on a poster to be distributed in Yukon schools.

The winners are Alia Drummond, Aliya Grant, Gavin Howells and Ava Irving-Stanley.

“The award recognizes these four young Yukoners for their positive impact in the territory, through fundraising, academics, volunteering and commitment to community activities,” according to a Yukon government press release.

“These four youth are role models for their peers and demonstrate the ways in which hard work and dedication inspire entire communities.”

The Yukon government provided short biographies in the announcement.

Grant, 18, is a Carcross/Tagish First Nation citizen who created a peer mentorship program for marginalized youth.

She also attended the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate conference as a youth representative last March. Three months later, Grant was the youngest Yukon female First Nation representative at the Canada World Youth Summit Conference in Saskatoon.

She co-created an education program in Carcross to help students customize their learning environment and has been granted an Emerging Leaders Award.

Grant is also involved in painting and drum-making, encouraging those around her to take up Tlingit practices.

“Through her dedication to her community and those within it, Aliya has helped shape Carcross and spread positive change through the territory,” the award announcement states.

Ava Irving-Staley is a 17-year-old environmentalist and athlete from Whitehorse. She coaches cycling, cross-country skiing and biathlon as a volunteer, and represented the Yukon as a cyclist in the 2019 Western Canada Games. She also competed in biathlon at the Arctic Winter Games.

“In addition to sports, Ava is an accomplished artist, having painted murals in her school, as well as commission work for friends and family,” the announcement says.

Irving-Staley is additionally being honoured for her high grades, which have earned her honour roll status, and her recent acceptance from Bishop’s University in Quebec with a large scholarship.

“Ava is an exemplary role model for health, fitness and dedication to art and academics,” the Yukon government says.

Fifteen-year-old Alia Drummond is recognized for her achievement in sports.

She has attended various hockey tournaments across Canada and was selected to play soccer at the 2020 Arctic Winter Games (the Games were ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19). Drummond also volunteers as a soccer and hockey coach.

“She is a role model to young female hockey and soccer players due to her dedication, hard work, and sportsmanship,” the award announcement says.

Drummond also placed first in the 2018 Science Fair for a stop motion project, as well as first at the 2019 Heritage Fair for a project on her great grandmother. She also won a graphic design award in the latter event.

“Alia represents teamwork, kindness, dedication and creativity through her achievements,” the announcement says.

Drummond lives in Haines Junction.

Gavin Howells, 18, is recognized for achievements in science. He received gold medals in junior and senior categories at the 2019 MILSET International Science Fair in Abu Dhabi and presented his work to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Howells was class student representative for the graduates of Vanier Catholic Secondary School (which has since changed its name to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School). He has also volunteered to judge science fairs, tutored fellow students and toured his research about the risks of vaping to 15 Yukon schools.

He is also a member of the Canada Summer Games soccer team, currently competing in Niagara.

“Gavin has demonstrated immense passion and dedication to the fields of science, music and athletics,” the Yukon government says.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at