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High School Essay Contest

What is your vision for Canada?

Our 2021 contest is now open!

We would like to hear your ideas about the priorities for public policy and administration and how you would go about implementing them as future leaders.

The School of Public Policy & Administration at York University and its undergraduate student association invite high school students to submit essays that reflect on Canada's 150 year history and the issues that the society, communities and government face now and looking into the future.

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 25, 2021.


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 2021 the prizes will be presented on Thursday, November 25, 2021 at a hybrid virtual/in-person event. To learn more about past year's celebrations, please visit our School of Public Policy and Administration Student, Alumni and Community Recognition Awards Dinner archive.

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

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

Congratulations to Erin, Noah and Selina!

We are always very impressed with the essay contest submissions and look forward to the new submissions for the Fall 2021 contest. Please submit your essay via the online portal on this page above.


Should you have any questions, please contact us via email at