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High School Essay Contest

Our 2022 contest is now open!

What do Indigenous land acknowledgements mean to you?

The School of Public Policy & Administration at York University and its undergraduate student association, the PPASA, invite high school students to submit essays that reflect on Indigenous land acknowledgements in Canada, their meaning and the change you hope they will bring about in society and in terms of how they can shape and impact public policy.

Eligibility Criteria

High school students in grades 10-12 are invited to participate. Individual submissions or co-authored essays by up to 3 authors will be considered.

The essays should be 500-1000 words (1-2 pages) in length.


A group of faculty, current students and alumni from the School of Public Policy & Administration will review the essays and nominate 3 winners. Essays can be submitted online no later than Monday October 24, 2022.


The authors of the three highest ranked essays, along with their parent(s) or other designated guest(s), will be invited to the School’s annual Student, Alumni, and Community Recognition Awards Dinner at York University. The essay winners will also receive a monetary reward: $200 for the 1st place, $150 for the 2nd place and $100 for the 3rd place.

In 2022 the prizes will be presented on Thursday, November 24, 2022 at an in-person event. To learn more about past year's celebrations, please visit our Student, Alumni and Community Recognition Awards Dinner archive.

Please help circulate this contest widely to high school students and teachers.

2021 What is Your Vision for Canada? High school essay contest winners:

1st Prize -  Pritika Lally | Grade 12
Donald A. Wilson Secondary School
Whitby, ON

A Longing Call to Prioritize the Safety of Indigenous Women against Violence in Canada

I'd like to start off by expressing my gratitude for this incredible award. I'm even more grateful for being given the opportunity to raise ableism awareness in Canada. Silencing the voices of those who need support is a habit that needs to be stopped. Not only is it revolting, but such a shame that we are wasting valuable knowledge from incredible citizens. By allowing them to obtain proper education, funds, and care, we are essentially leading our country to a future of success and unity.

— Isabella Wossen

2nd Prize - Isabella Wossen | Grade 10
Omer-Deslauriers Secondary Public School
Ottawa, ON

Ableism: The Unspoken Social Injustice in Canada

3rd Prize -  Isabella Yue | Grade 12
Paul Kane High School
St. Albert, AB

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation

2020 What is Your Vision for Canada? High school essay contest winners:

1st Prize - Erin Rebello | Grade 12
Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School
Toronto, ON

Prioritizing the Healthcare Needs of Black and Indigenous Persons of Colour

Thank you so much for this incredible award. As a student interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, I really decided to take this essay contest as a challenge to explore and dive into the many intersections between healthcare, society, and law and politics. Furthermore, the healthcare needs of Black and Indigenous People of Colour in Canada is a topic that I'm extremely passionate about, and I'm really glad that my enthusiasm shone through my writing, and that I was chosen as the first-place winner of the York Public Policy Essay Contest.

— Erin Rebello

I would like to thank the School of Public Policy & Administration for holding this essay competition. The act of writing this essay helped broaden my thoughts about what are the most pressing issues of our times. Lessening inequality brings us together, even though we remain our different selves.

— Noah Smale

2nd Prize - Noah Smale | Grade 10
Middleton Regional High School
Middleton, NS

A Vision When Time is of the Essence

3rd Prize - Selina Alora | Grade 11
St. Joseph’s College School
Toronto, ON

Climate Change in Canada

The essay I composed was a direct response to witnessing the severity of the climate crisis and how it has impacted my life. It is imperative to understand that the climate crisis will affect everyone involved. It knows no borders between the young and old, the rich or the poor. This is a problem we need to come together to solve, and I was especially influenced by watching young climate activists mobilize to fight for what they believe in, by means of campaigning on digital platforms and in previous years, through climate strikes. To see individuals my age be so passionate for a cause awakened my own desire to create change. I would like to thank everyone involved in hosting this competition for the opportunity given to me and it was a pleasure to participate and share my thoughts. 

— Selina Alora


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