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Province honours local youth and mental health advocate

PHOTO. Youth Advocate Fajar Khan received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Citizenship Medal this week in honour of her community work in mental health and youth advocacy. Khan attended Westwood High School and Keyano College. Supplied by Fajar Khan/Twitter.

Fajar Khan devoted her life to mental health awareness and children’s rights.

In recognition of her efforts, the province of Alberta honoured the Westwood graduate with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Citizenship Medal.

Khan was one of only eight students this year to receive the award for her community service and volunteer work.

Khan said it was an emotional experience.

“I was overjoyed as I had forgotten about the award. It took me about an hour to understand what it meant to be nominated for this award.”

She first applied for the award last June.

It wasn’t until May that the province notified her that she would receive the medal.

Khan was on vacation in Pakistan the day of the ceremony in Edmonton.

Nevertheless, Khan thanked Westwood Community High School for backing her nomination.

“Typically, the school nominates the student for the Premier’s citizenship award, which [exemplifies one’s] citizenship, leadership, community service and volunteer work.”

From there, Khan said the province upgraded her for the Golden Jubilee Citizenship Award.

“This year’s medal recipients share a sense of compassion and dedication to community service, combined with a tireless spirit of adventure and innovation.” Said Lt-Gov. Lois Mitchell. “They have made great use of these gifts to date and I trust that they will continue to give back as they build their careers.”

Khan is a second-year student at the University of Alberta looking to complete her Bachelor of Science.

Despite the difficulties of student life, Khan said it’s a worthwhile experience.

“It’s always exciting as I get a step closer to finishing my degree and getting out in the work field. It is also frustrating at times as assignments pile up and exam season crawls around the corner. It’s definitely not always the best but it is worth it and I do truly love it at the end of the day.”

Youth Advocate

Khan draws on her personal experience as an inspiration to advocate for children and youth.

As a child, Khan said she felt her voice had little to no value.

“I joined initiatives as a way to have my voice heard, and let people older than me know that my voice is as equally important as theirs. Through these initiatives, I became an advocate for youth voices.”

She devoted much of her time in Fort McMurray campaigning for kids and mental health.

That experience was a valuable asset when she became a student at Keyano College.

Khan said joining the school’s Student Mental Health Committee allowed her to reach young people.

“To me, the Student Mental Health Committee became a way to help other students struggling with mental health issues or even just be there to listen to what they were feeling on a particular day.”

Soon, Khan became the Chair of the Student Mental Health Committee.

She said one of her responsibilities was to ensure students had access to resources and support to enhance their student life experience.

“On the committee, I worked with other members to ensure a student food bank was available for students dealing with financial issues, [and] provide pet therapy and massage therapy for students.”

Khan added the committee held a stress-less week.

On the week before finals, the group organized activities to relieve stress for Keyano students.

They even gave out snacks throughout the day.

The Jubilee Citizenship Medal recognizes students like Khan for their volunteerism and community spirit.

Khan said she will continue to advocate so all children can have a voice.

“I want to make sure children younger than me never felt the way I did. To me, it became important to advocate for youth who are unable to voice their opinions as I began to realize all the privileges I had living in Canada.”

Khan looks forward to promoting mental health awareness at her university.