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Aspiring journalist already earning marks for distinction

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A pair of Garden City Collegiate students are up for a YMCA-YWCA Winnipeg’s Women of Distinction award and a shot at a handsome university scholarship.

Grade 12 students Anna MacDonald and Cassandra Julyan were recently named finalists for the Gerrie Hammond Memorial Award of Promise, which comes with a $2,000 scholarship sponsored by Manitoba Lotteries.

"I was beyond words," said MacDonald, a student in Seven Oaks Met School, noting she was in Halifax visiting relatives and touring the University of King’s College at Dalhousie University when she got the news.

Over the last two years MacDonald, 18, has been focused on building a foundation that will help launch her into a career as a documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist.

MacDonald said she was inspired by her mother, a political refugee from Guatemala, to start her first documentary project on political refugees living in Winnipeg. The 25-minute film has screened film festivals at home and internationally, from the Tower of Youth festival in California, to the Freeze Frame and Human Rights international festivals here in Winnipeg.

"When I did my first documentary, I knew it was what I wanted to do," said MacDonald, noting she first joined the Met School to pursue a career as an actress. "It lit a spark in me. Everything felt right."

MacDonald is finishing up a second film on the role Canadian mines are playing in the lucrative conflict mineral market in the Democratic Republic of Congo — minerals needed for everyday Western consumer goods like cellphones and jewelry.

MacDonald hopes to get into King’s College or the Creative Communications program at Red River College, and make her mark in what has traditionally been a profession dominated and dictated by men.

She has already made inroads by interning at CityTV, Merit Motion Pictures and the National Screen Institute.

"Women aren’t just teachers and nurses. They can be role models in male-dominated areas," she said.

"I know the type of woman I want to be is very assertive, knows what she wants and is respectful of others. Journalism will give me that drive and the power to find out things people wouldn’t know otherwise."

Julyan is a member of Garden City’s gay-straight alliance and is becoming a vocal advocate for Winnipeg’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. She could not be reached for comment.

In all, 86 women were nominated in 12 categories as part of this year’s awards, which began in Winnipeg in 1977.

Other north Winnipeg nominees include Judith Bartlett in the education, training and mentorship category; Linda Lindsay in the voluntarism, advocacy and community enhancement category; and Courtney Mandock is the young woman of distinction category.

Winners of this year’s awards will be named at the 37th annual Women of Distinction Awards Gala held on Wed., May 1 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

For more, visit www.ywinnipeg.ca.

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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