A remarkable young Sudburian attended a prestigious event last week featuring none other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. Vice-president Joe Biden.
Mélanie-Rose Frappier, 18, attended the dinner Dec. 8 at the Sir John A. Macdonald building in Ottawa, which was held to celebrate the Canada-U.S. relationship.
Frappier, who is taking health promotion and indigenous studies at Laurentian University, said she suspects she was invited for the work she does in the non-profit group she founded in 2013. Cool to be Healthy/C’est cool d’être en santé works to educate young people about the benefits of exercise and healthy nutrition.
She also recruited volunteers to raise money to purchase 88 soccer balls that were given to the Francophone Youth Soccer League in the Centre de santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury.
Also in 2013, she served as a Youth Ambassador for Canada, the only young person from Northern Ontario to take part in the three-week exchange program held through the American Embassy in Ottawa, the State University of New York College and Fulbright Canada.
And in 2014, Frappier attended the We Day event at the Air Canada Centre, where she shared her passion for her Métis heritage with 20,000 youth leaders from across Canada.
"I believe (I was invited) because of the community service that I do, and the indigenous declaration that I've been talking about for the past couple of months," she said. "This year, with 36 other youth across Canada, we created a declaration for indigenous education and how to enhance education for indigenous youth across Canada. (*full text of the declaration can be read at the bottom of this story).
"I've been doing presentations across the country for a couple of months now -- even one in Vancouver where I spoke in front of (former Prime Minister) Paul Martin."
But she was still surprised Dec. 5 to receive an email from the federal government inviting her to the dinner.
"Obviously, that was a total surprise to me — I was really excited," Frappier said.
But there was one problem: the dinner was the same day as her final exam.
"So I actually had to write my exam in the day of, then I went straight to Ottawa right after to attend the dinner," she said.
She arrived in Ottawa and pulled up to the building heavily guarded by security and police – which was a little overwhelming, she said, but exciting. Once inside, she realized had good seats.
"There were about 42 tables, and I was at table 14, so I had a very clear view of Trudeau and Biden," Frappier said.
Biden and Trudeau gave speeches on the importance of the Canada-U.S. Relationship, which she said was inspiring, and she got to spend a little bit of time with Trudeau.
"I had an opportunity to speak with him and take a selfie,” Frappier said. “I got to speak with him about what I do in my community and he was very happy that I was there and he was very humble and personable."
Did anyone bring up Donald Trump, the controversial U.S. President elect?
"No, they didn't," Frappier laughed. "I think everyone was waiting for it, but it didn't come up."
It was a memorable night, she said, and one that might inspire her to try her hand at politics some day.
"I'm looking forward to becoming a doctor, but maybe later on in my life, I'd like to go into politics," she said. "I was very honoured to have that opportunity and to be in that situation. I was one of the youngest people there and it really inspired me."