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Article posted on April 12, 2017

Duke of Ed Silver Award Winner: Moira McRann

Duke of Edinburgh silver award recipient Moira McRann canoes along Peace River.
Duke of Edinburgh silver award recipient Moira McRann canoes along Peace River.
Programs like the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and 4H Canada have helped Moira develop new skills.
Programs like the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and 4H Canada have helped Moira develop new skills.

Note: This article was originally published April 5, 2017 by Youth Are Awesome blogger Ananya Arya. Alberta’s Promise is thrilled to share this story in support of Youth Are Awesome, a youth blogging program offered by our partner Youth Central, and in support of our partner, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut Division.

A young girl, from the rural community of Bay Tree, Alberta embarked upon a challenge that will soon come to an end. Moria McRann is a Duke of Edinburgh's silver award recipient and has made quite the name for herself. The Duke of Ed's silver award ceremony is this April 28, 2017 and Moira will be honoured with other youth in Canada. Duke of Ed awards youth throughout Canada for their commitment to community service, skill development, physical activity, and exploring the environment.

Although I have not gotten the chance to meet this amazing young girl, I did have the opportunity to ask her about her life. I will tell you all about this active participant in her community and put a story behind this golden girl to find out how she does it all, what keeps her going, and what is behind her never ending drive.

“I love to keep myself busy, challenge myself and try new things, and this sounded like it was right up my alley.” 

Moira is a Grade 10 student, part of several clubs such as the 4H club, her school's student council, and the RCMP National Youth Advisory Committee. Not only is she an active member of her school and her community, she takes on the chores at home, on her beautiful farm. She's a busy girl day and night, with an inspiring drive to be better every day.

People often tell others that the world is their backyard, this girl takes it literally. When asked about her adventures and her hobbies, Moira considers the world to be her backyard, a place where she always has something new to learn.

“I love to wander and explore new places. Sometimes I will take a picture of a plant or bird if I am unsure of what it is. I will go home and look in my plant and bird books to figure out what it is. I like to learn things like this because I like to learn about the world around me. There is always something new to discover in your backyard.”

YAA: What inspires you?

MM: Whenever I want to start something new, I think about how it will affect me and if it can make me a better person. I start with an end goal in mind, and this goal encourages me to finish what I have started. I have been fortunate to meet lots of people who have demonstrated this for me and have been positive role models in my life. I am inspired by people who make a lasting, positive impact and are not afraid to be themselves.

Through my time in school, I discovered one of my role models, my teacher Mrs. Simmonds. Mrs. Simmonds is an incredible teacher and role model. She is friendly, supportive and holds her students to high expectations. Whenever you are feeling down or something is bothering you, she is always there to listen, give you a hug and help you with challenges you are facing. She makes me want to be the best person I can be. She always challenges and encourages me to reach my maximum potential.

I am inspired by the people in the community who give their time to make it a great place. Living in a small community, we need volunteers to make things happen. Giving back to my community is very important and there are many ways to do this. From helping a retired neighbour, volunteering for a group or organization or even giving back time to my elementary school, the possibilities are endless.

YAA: You talk about trying new activities --what might some of them be?

MM: I have been fortunate enough to try many new activities including piano lessons, public speaking, cross-stitching, canoeing, and hiking. Activities like canoeing and public speaking have pushed me out of my comfort zone and have helped develop my confidence.

YAA: What do you like about living in a rural community?

MM: I like living in a rural community because there is a lot of extra space for hiking and trail rides with my friends. I love having extra space for outdoor activities in my own back yard. I can go ski-dooing during the winter or quadding in the summer. With the extra space, we have lots of room for animals and our vegetable garden. One of my favourite activities is raising my 4H heifer. I enjoy halter breaking her, getting her ready to show and spending time with my extended family.

YAA: Do you have pets?

MM: I live on a small family farm, and I consider all of my animals to be my pets. I have a horse, a dog, four cats, a rabbit, two pygmy goats, six ducks, and we are expecting six chickens in the late spring. I also have two cows that live with my Dad’s herd.

I love to go for rides on my horse. There is nothing like finding a comfortable canter where my horse and I are in perfect harmony. This is when I feel invincible and happy. It feels like nothing can stop me and I can do whatever I want to.

YAA: What's your favourite movie and why?

MM: My favourite movie would have to be 42, the movie about Jackie Robinson. I like this movie because he inspires me. Jackie grew up in a time and place where people were not treated equally and he was harassed and pushed around a lot. Even though it got hard and he felt like giving up on his baseball career, he never gave up. He was determined and he pushed through. This is something I admire in people; determination.

YAA: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?

MM: One of my biggest challenges in life has been overcoming my shyness and trying new activities that take me out of my comfort zone. Participating in the Duke Of Edinburgh’s International Award and my local 4H club has pushed me to develop skills to meet new people, try new things and realize that I can do it, if I set a goal to reach. Another challenge is living in a small, rural community. My school days are long (my bus ride is one hour and thirty-five minutes one way) and by the time I get home, there is not a lot of extra time. I have to be very organized and have good time management skills to do all the things I want to do.

YAA: What has your best friend taught you?

MM: My best friend has taught me that hard work is always rewarding. We both struggle in different classes, so we help each other by sharing our strengths and supporting each other with our learning. We both work hard to earn the marks we want, and we encourage each other. She has taught me that facing challenges is okay, it only makes your success taste greater. She has also taught me that healthy relationships are important and rewarding.

YAA: What has been one of your most important lessons in life?

MM: One of the most important lessons in my life, that I can recall, was during a lecture my science teacher was giving us. It was right after we had written a math test and we were all a little stressed out to hear our marks. She told us not to worry so much and that the word “fail” stands for “first attempt in learning.” Even if we did fail that test, we could learn from it and apply that learning in the future. I think that this was a very important moment for me, especially because I am very hard on myself and I am academically driven. It reminded me that even when you “fail,” you learn especially when you take the time to reflect on what happened. I have continued to work hard in school but when I receive a grade I am not happy with, I am not so hard on myself. I take what I have learned from that failure, and I apply it to other things so I do not make the same mistakes.

YAA: What do you plan on doing after university?

MM: After completing my Education degree and a Masters in Speech Pathology, I would like to work in the school system or with children. I like working and interacting with kids, especially young ones. I had an amazing teacher and role model as I grew up, and I hope to be a person who can make a positive impact in children’s lives. I also plan to get my Leaders pin for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award so I can be a leader and give back to the youth of the community I live in.

This amazing girl is doing it all, making it big in her community and still staying true to who she is. She lives a very different lifestyle from most Calgarians which makes her perspective even more different than most people. She has already achieved so much and I hope to hear more of her in the future regarding such unique awards, volunteering achievements, and academic excellence. I am happy I got a chance to talk to her and get to know Moira, even if I was able to just scratch the surface.


Here's a little more on the Duke of Edinburgh award program.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program was launched by Prince Philip in 1956.  The concept is based on the philosophy of personal empowerment of youth through community engagement.  The approach is to use working and volunteering within the community to build confidence, self-esteem, resiliency, and increased leadership capacity in young people.  It’s an approach that works.  From humble beginnings with marginalized youth from the east end of London in the U.K., The Award has expanded to 140 countries with over eight million participants worldwide, including 50,000 in Canada and over 6,500 in Alberta.

Any youth age 14 to 25, regardless of physical or mental abilities, social, economic, religious, or ethnic backgrounds, can participate in the program.  At every level of The Award - Bronze, Silver and Gold - and for every requirement - Community Service, Skill Development, Physical Activity, and Exploring the Environment - there is the opportunity to strengthen the participant’s community through their personal involvement and development.

The Award program offers the highest recognition in Canada for young people who meet their goals and challenges.  The Bronze Award is presented by local community leaders; the Silver Award is presented by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.  The Gold Award is presented to achievers by a member of the Royal Family or the Governor General of Canada.

To get started and sign up, visit

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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