An Unexpected Experience, Danny’s Award Story


Meet Danny, a Gold Award achiever from Saskatoon, SK. The Award has impacted Danny’s life after finishing the Award because it has instilled lifelong values. Danny still works towards his Award activities to enhance his skills even after completing it!  


“Hi, my name is Danny! I am passionate about the land and outdoors, and I like nature and wildlife. I also really like doing physical work outdoors. I enjoy what I do for work, which is construction —specifically, roofing and framing of commercial/residential buildings. 

The Duke of Edinburgh Award allowed me more variety in my daily schedule. The impact of The Duke of Edinburgh Award has pushed me to work harder at home and not to waste precious time. When I do roofing in the summer, we start early in the morning and usually finish late in the evening. Between that time, for the Award, I would practice Ojibwe, bake muffins, or go for a hike. I had to develop the discipline to do that stuff, especially when I didn’t feel like it. The Award has helped me grow in my discipline and given me various goals to work towards. 


Learning a Language 

For my skill section I chose to learn Ojibwe because I grew up in Treaty 3 territory in Ontario where Ojibwe is spoken, and I had some connection to people who were familiar with the language. I also thought it would be a language unlike any other language to learn. The Award taught me that learning a language is more accessible than I initially thought. I now better understand how to approach learning any language. I started by downloading an Ojibwe language app. With the app, I would just listen to Ojibwe speakers having a conversation then I would repeat the words. This helped with clearly understanding the pronunciation. The app had 30 lessons. My first time going through it, I would work on one lesson for half an hour every day for two weeks. I sat in a quiet place and repeated the words that they would say on the recording. In the winter I would sit in the garage and in the summer, I would sit in the backyard. After each lesson, I wrote down every word in Ojibwe with its meaning in English, so I had an Ojibwe dictionary. I also wrote down the conversation on the app with its meaning in English. When it was time to show my progress to my assessor, I would draw a picture of two characters, and I would write and voice a conversation in Ojibwe between them. I would then send the conversation on video to my assessor. I would also have my script written down with its translation in English for future reference. I’m thinking of learning another language because I now feel confident that I have the needed skills. 


Gold Project 

For my Gold Project, we went to Alberta for the Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage to volunteer for the visit of the Pope to apologize for the impact of Residential Schools on Indigenous people. I didn’t expect we would get to see the Pope. In the spring, my family read in the news that the Pope may be coming to Canada and that one of the stops could be the annual Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage in Alberta. My sisters and I sent an email to the coordinator of the pilgrimage asking if we could volunteer. I was interested because we would be camping while there, I would have a chance to see the Pope, and I wanted to go to the healing water of the lake. For my volunteer experience, my jobs were greeting people off the buses and dieting them. Afterwards I drove the golf cart and gave people rides to wherever they wanted to go. I also got to see Pope Francis. The image I remember is people sitting in the shrine with the priest at the front and the musician’s playing guitar and singing. I remember hearing the drums being played at night while we were lying in our tent. The people were nice, but I don’t know how I impacted the community. I do, however, feel like I was impacted by the experience. I was happy to be there, and it was an experience I enjoyed. I really enjoyed all the culture and the architecture. Because I work in construction, I also really liked looking at the rafters in the shrine and all the other buildings. I also learned that you could participate in things without spending much money. 



Connecting with the Community 

I was encouraged to connect with the community and interact with others through service. One way I interacted with others was when my three sisters and I donated muffins to the soup kitchen for the service area of the Award. We interacted with volunteers who received the muffins. When we volunteered at the Lac Ste Anne Pilgrimage, we had to cooperate with others on a large scale. There were thousands of people with very high security. I was wearing a volunteer shirt and an identification badge with my name on it. The other volunteers and I were assigned to a post by the volunteer leaders. We communicated with the pilgrimage participants. We had to be friendly and helpful because some of the participants had come a long way and had questions. Some of the elders needed transportation because it was a long walk to the shrine from the bus stop. We also handed out snacks and water.  


Life After the Award 

Thanks to the Award, I’ve had weeks of practice making muffins and I now make them for lunch every week. I continue to practice Ojibwe, and the Award has given me a solid foundation to help me keep practicing and become fluent in the language. I enjoyed camping and going to Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan. I now have the gear to go on any backcountry adventure—a large backpack, compact tent, and small camp stove—and I am proud of that. I want to do more backcountry activities, such as backcountry hunting. I would also like to find more Ojibwe programs to help me pursue my learning and develop my engagement with the community. 

Although I no longer hike weekly, I have continued to do exercises for about thirty minutes every morning and I have developed the understanding of the importance of being physically active. I now volunteer when the opportunities come to me, and I plan to continue providing my service where needed. 

The Award helped me learn that I could do anything that I set my mind to. I learned to start small, be patient, and gradually build myself up to greatness, which can relate to all aspects of life. I discovered that if I want to learn something, I can make time for it. I am more open to learning something new and volunteering at organizations. 


Join the Award 

The Award helps you prioritize your goals. It encourages you to get out and do the stuff you wanted to do but were never sure how you could go out there and do it. If you want to accomplish great things as a young person, you should join the Award!” 


We thank Danny for sharing his story, we hope it inspires you to Join the Award, Volunteer with the Award, or Become an Award Centre  


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