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Abbotsford's Christel Mazzek receives Terry Fox Humanitarian Award

St. John Brebeuf student one of 14 from across Canada to earn national scholarship
Christel Mazzek at the Terry Fox statue in Ottawa.

Grade 12 student Christel Mazzek has been selected as a recipient of the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award. 

"I remember being in absolute awe when I first learned about Terry Fox in my Grade 6 class.Terry Fox is one of the most influential people in Canadian history, and learning about his resilience and the Marathon of Hope left a significant impact on me," Mazzek said. "I am so unbelievably humbled and honoured to have received an award associated with his name six years later."

Mazzek, a student at St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary School, was born in Syria. She fled the war-torn country at age six and spent five years in Lebanon before settling in Canada. 

Despite the difficulties of living in a new country, Mazzek has thrived throughout her high school years. She has maintained a 99 per cent average and become involved in the community. 

Mazzek founded an art club at her school. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mazzek noticed clubs and sports activities were suffering. What started as take-home art projects has turned into weekly sessions of painting, figure drawing, clay workshops and school-wide art competitions. The club, now known as 'Open Studio,' has grown to over 35 members thanks to Mazzek's initiative. 

Mazzek has also volunteered at local art galleries since Grade 10 to share the world of art to children. 

She says, "Ever since I could hold a pencil art has been a big passion of mine. This inspired me to share my love for it with kids in my community." 

Mazzek is the chief marketing officer at the Vancouver Kindness Movement. This organization is a youth-led and registered non-profit focused on positive change and sustainability in the community. She has helped with the digital marketing of cleanups, fundraisers and drives. 

She is also the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and is a member of the social justice team. 

Mazzek will be attending the University of British Columbia to study science in the fall. The scholarship covers up to $28,000 across four years. A stipend of $7,000 is issued directly to the institution the student is attending each school year. 

Mazzek has also received the Beedie Luminaries Scholarship and Trevor Linden Community Spirit Award. Mazzek wants to encourage other students to seize the opportunities presented to them. She is grateful that these support networks have been available, especially to a young immigrant such as herself. 

"I'm shaped by a unique experience," Mazzek said. "I want to encourage others, and show that even the most daunting challenges can spark a drive for humanitarian work. I want to instill a dedication to ensure the greater good." 

The Terry Fox Humanitarian Award was established in 1982, with the goal of encouraging Canadian youth to emulate Fox's courage and determination through volunteer work. The award requires the student to be in good academic standing, a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, graduating from high school, involved in voluntary humanitarian activities, and are planning to study at a Canadian post-secondary institution.