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Eskasoni teen named finalist in medal design contest

Rankin School of the Narrows student Noreen Stevens, right, is shown with Tex Marshall, president of the 2020 North American Indigenous Games. Stevens was recently named as one of eight finalists in a medal design competition for the tournament taking place July 12-18 in Halifax. CONTRIBUTED
Rankin School of the Narrows student Noreen Stevens, right, is shown with Tex Marshall, president of the 2020 North American Indigenous Games. Stevens was recently named as one of eight finalists in a medal design competition for the tournament taking place July 12-18 in Halifax. CONTRIBUTED
SYDNEY, N.S. —

An Eskasoni teenager who uses imagination as inspiration for her art has been named a finalist in a medal design contest for this summer’s North American Indigenous Games.

Noreen Stevens is one of eight student finalists from across Nova Scotia who are vying for a chance to have their designs featured around the necks of Indigenous athletes.

A second Cape Bretoner who also remains in the contest is Jolie Jeddore of Eskasoni Allison Bernard Memorial High.

Stevens, a 13-year-old from Eskasoni, said her submission draws on Mi’kmaw culture and features a turtle and feathers along with traditional colours.

Stevens said she applied for the contest after first hearing about it from her Godmother.

The Grade 8 student at the Rankin School of the Narrows will be a first-time competitor at the games in the sport of volleyball, archery and tug-of-war.

“It just came out of my head. I just imagine it,” said Stevens when asked about her submission.

Having started drawing at a very young age, Stevens says she can often be found with a pencil in hand.

She plans to continue working on her craft with hopes of becoming a professional artist one day. The majority of her subject are focused on people, animals and the Mi'kmaw way of life.

Stevens' teachers say she also has a particular keen eye for drawing anime characters.

“She’s really good at what she does,” said Theresa MacNeil, principal of the Rankin school.

“She seems to really enjoy it. It comes naturally to her. We have quite a significant Indigenous population so there’s a lot of time spent bringing out culture in art.”

According to Georgia LaForme, community relations co-ordinator for the 2020 North American Indigenous Games, two finalists will be selected to work with a Mi'kmaw artist to create the official medal design.

Taking place for the first time in Atlantic Canada, this summer’s event will be hosted over eight days in July with competition sites in the Halifax Regional Municipality and Millbrook First Nation.

The games will feature more than 5,000 Indigenous sport and cultural youth participants in 17 disciplines.

It is believed that the medal design finalists will be narrowed down sometime this winter.

“We’re very proud,” said MacNeil. “(She's) really hard working and certainly shines as far as art goes. We’re just happy that she’s able to have fun with it.”

As part of a cultural component to the games, organizers say the medal design contest was launched to help engage local communities.

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