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Friday, April 7, 2017

Celebrating talented local writer Irvin Provost

Irvin Provost (center) with LRSD Ward 1 Trustee John McKee and Ward 3 Trustee Shannon Scherger
"Livingstone Range School Division (LRSD) and Matthew Halton High School (MHHS) are proud to announce that grade 10 student Irvin Provost is a silver medal recipient of the Indigenous Shining Student Award." - LRSD press release
Chris Davis, with supplied material - On April 3 Matthew Halton High School (MHHS) grade 10 student Irvin Provost was announced as a silver medal recipient of the annual Indigenous Shining Student Award, which celebrates First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) students who are shining examples in their communities "through embracing and respecting an Aboriginal perspective or world view." He was one of over 60 students nominated from schools across Alberta this year. According to an LRSD press release (excerpted extensively in this article), "Provost is the eldest of four children and has ancestry from both the Piikani and Kainai Nations. He is characterized as an optimistic and deeply thoughtful student with a positive work ethic and strong leadership skills. He has also demonstrated a gift for writing." Provost was honoured at the FNMI Youth Summit which was held at MHHS on Wednesday, April 5.
“As a very deep thinker, he wrote one of the best essays that I have read in my career. Irvin makes great contributions to class discussions [and] is willing to work hard in his pursuit of success. Irvin leads by example and is a positive role model for his siblings and other students in the school.” - MHHS Native Liaison Lorraine Morningbull
In addition to his achievements at school, the described “gentle giant” has also made important contributions to his community, preparing a youth society grant proposal that successfully secured funding to initiate a youth literacy project, implemented in partnership with the local public library.

“It’s a huge honour to receive this award,” says Provost. “I was surprised that the Indigenous Shining Student committee recognized me…astounded that the committee would award me for my efforts to create changes within my community.”

Karen Johnson, administrator of a Rotary camp at which Irvin Provost was a participator, observed an intriguing and deep young man who captivated other participants with a story he wrote entitled, “The Dark Forest”.

“The group was mesmerized,” says Johnson. “I then knew that this young student was on his way to greatness.”

The award was presented to Provost by LRSD Ward 3 Trustee Shannon Scherger (Ward 3 includes MHHS) and LRSD Ward 1 Trustee John McKee.

Q&A with Irvin Provost

How long have you been writing?

"I've been writing for as long as I can remember, but I was serious about writing when I was eleven years old. From there, it's been quite the journey, as I've always have been trying to improve my writing and learning to draw inspiration from some of my favorite authors."

What drew you to writing?


"The concept and beauty of writing. I've always been invested in the craft of shaping a world of my own through writing. I've always been big on reading with the adventures and twists of books, they've inspired to me to write stories of my own. My goal was to always write for my readers and have them shocked, amused, and inspired from my writing. I wanted to accomplish the feats my favorite authors have achieved, such as Thomas King or Maya Angelou."

What kinds of things do you like to write?

"My writing is very abstract, it's never a linear adventure with what I write. The movies I watch, books I read, and the things I experience all intertwine to help me create forms of literature. I draw inspiration from my own experiences and express them through writing. To answer the question, I write what inspires me the most. I like to write stories about my aboriginal heritage, stories that involve an entirely different system from our modern world, and sometimes I mix in social activism. I like to write about social issues regarding natives in 21st century, I like to write about the nature of the world, and I like to write unique stories and experiences that provide entertainment and enlightening aspects. I'm also interested in poetry. Poetry is like a book, except you express your thoughts and themes through poetic devices. For me, writing is my way of expressing my beliefs and experiences for my audience, which helps my goal to invoke emotion and provide entertainment to my readers. Writing is something I am invested in, because I believe words can shape the world we live in, words are powerful and I want to use them to provide something of worth in this world."

Do you have a goal in mind?

"My goal is to make a positive difference in the world. I want to be happy while I help others through my lifetime. Whether it be from helping my fellow aboriginal youth, working with my elders, or being a role model to others... my goal is to help bring a difference in this world. How I plan on making a difference? By breaking down the misinformed stereotypes my people face, giving back to my community, and help bring awareness to some of the issues that exist in this world. I plan on being an advocate for justice by giving my all to those around me and making sure to be a positive-leader for those I work with. By mixing in my interests with my goals, I believe I can reach out to some people and create a difference. Through writing, learning, and providing my skills, that is how I want to make a difference."

How has writing benefited you?

"Writing has done a lot, it's a tool that I have used to provide an artistry in my life. Writing also has provided me the opportunity to express my beliefs and opinions, as well, writing has given depth in the way I view the world. To see the world through others eyes, I am able to form strong and well-informed opinions that I can express through writing. Writing is a powerful tool for anyone, as it's something one can take from and share with the world. Words are powerful, they are what we use to communicate on a daily-basis, and if one is able to master that skill... writing has the potential to change the world. That is why I want to constantly improve my writing, so I create works that help inspire and bring difference in this world. It benefits me in my life and helps give meaning to the way I communicate with others. Writing will always be a part of who I am."

What do you plan on doing next?

"I want to write a novel, I've written stuff before, though when I create a book I want it to summarize the things I've learned and the wisdom I've gained. While I am doing this, I want to do more projects as I've done in the past. I find it enjoyable to create projects that benefit the community, as well I want to continue to provide my skills and abilities to good causes. I want to learn more about my culture from elders, help fellow youth, and focus on my education so I can move further in life. But I also want to meet inspirational people and continue to work with my mentors and people I've met, so I can continue to learn and gain and share the things I've gained in my youth."

The Feather and the Bullet - Irvin Provost 
(read during Matthew Halton High School's 2016 Remembrance ceremony)

I swore allegiance to the queen to fight
Letting my hair fall in pieces to the ground
Bearing the queen’s will and might
I let my culture fade into the fight.

I look up to the sky and pray
Hoping for creator’s light to shine bright
The soils and blood that spill into the night
I grimace tightly as the bullets fly across the fields.

Again, I let my culture fade further into the war
Taking the lives of others
I silently pray for my enemies
They are not buffalo, I have to remind myself.

Picking up what strength I have left
I struggle with the pain and listen to the yells of others
Taking in consideration of who and what I am
I am aboriginal.

Still, as my fellow brothers fall to the ground
Their eyes shining and glowing in the light
I feel my culture beginning to wane
I grimace and carry on, bearing the pain.

Now the fields are lit dimly in the dawn
The cries of agony are gone
But the blood is stained across my hands
And endless visions and cries of war haunt me.

The queen’s will has left me and I’ve come home to my land
Many greet me and cheer - we all thank the creator
I too look into the sky and pray
Still the visions don my mind and weigh.

I am aboriginal - I don’t kill for the sake of it
I did so, I remind myself, to live in serenity and freeness
Who I am must remain and be passed to the children
A victory won a world where freedom is adored.

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