Isabel Carter will remember March 14, 2023 for a long time.
A school day that included jazz band and choir performances in the evening and a pep rally ahead of the high school basketball provincials that started at R.D. Parker Collegiate a couple days later was also the day she received an award for kindness.
Speaking the the Thompson Citizen March 21, Carter said she was totally caught off guard by the honour.
“It’s not something I was ever expecting or hoping for,” she said.
Ensuring Carter was around to receive the Samantha Mason Friendship Award, named for a 15-year-old Winnipeg girl who killed herself in May 2015 after years of bullying and presented to someone 17 or younger who embodies the virtue of kindness, took a little trickery.
As far as Carter knew, the Tuesday morning assembly was really for the pep rally, but the rally was really a ruse.
A teacher had enlisted Carter’s help to get students seated for the assembly in order to ensure that she didn’t leave the school during the last period of the morning, since she didn’t have a class.
When she saw that a couple of players from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were there, she thought it was odd but didn’t make much of it.
“That’s kind of weird for a pep rally,” she thought.
Displaying one of the characteristics that helped her earn the award, Carter thought of someone else.
“I got a card signed for my brother,” she says, explaining that her family members are fans of the football team.
When principal Bonnie Rempel took the microphone and explained that the assembly was really to give out an award before a video about Samantha Mason played for the students, Carter was confused.
“I thought that was kind of weird,” she said. But still she didn’t anticipate the waiting surprise. “I was totally in the dark.”
Then she heard her name and went up to the front of the gym to receive the award.
“I started crying up there,” she said.
Rempel told the assembled students that the recipient was more than deserving.
“This is a rare moment where she’s acknowledged for her kindness and just know that even when you’re kind to somebody it is making a difference.” said the principal. “You may never know it but it is making a difference. It’s well-deserved.”
Following a chance for her family and her to hang out with Nick and Noah Hallett of the Blue Bombers and even shoot a few hoops with them, followed by lunch, Carter was on a high the rest of the day.
“I’m going to hold on to this for the rest of my life,” she said. “It’s going to be something I think back on, for sure.”
In addition to the award, Carter also ended up with $1,500 to put towards her education.
When Rempel asked Twin Motors if they had a van she could borrow to drive the Blue Bombers around, she explained what was happening to Jimmy Pelk, who did more than just lend the school a vehicle
“He’s writing a cheque for a $500 scholarship,” Rempel said.
When the Samantha Mason Foundation and the Blue Bombers heard about that, they stepped up and matched that donation.
Though it’s nice to be recognized and to have the financial burden of attend college or university eased, Carter says that she gives because she enjoys it.
“It’s really enjoyable to just be able to know that you’re doing something,” Carter says. “Even if it doesn’t get noticed, you can feel it in yourself that you did something. That’s really all I do. I was just taught to always help out and do the best I can.”
Even when talking about being the centre of attention, Carter can’t help but share the spotlight.
“I wanted to say thank you to everyone, especially Ms. Rempel, Twin Motors, the Blue Bombers and the Samantha Mason Foundation.”