Cowichan Valley teenager and fundraiser Kalliana King is now recognized in a book by Canada’s Governor General David Johnston.
The GG launched the book on Tuesday, April 19.
Entitled The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation, the personally-reflective book is written as a series of letters and explores the values, sensibilities, traditions and achievements that together have made Canada unique in the word.
Johnston has always used the letter-writing form to tackle his passions, challenges and goals.
Since his earliest years as a student in university, he has written letters each day, starting with those to his family and then broadening to encompass an ever-widening circle of people.
In letters to characters and individuals living and dead, eminent and unknown, The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation touches on a wide range of topics: learning, law and justice, kindness and courage, innovation, Aboriginal education, bilingualism, mental health, hockey and more.
It is presented in three parts—“What Shapes Me”, “What Consumes Me” and “What Inspires Me”.
Readers can find letters to Clara Hughes, Chris Hadfield, the Aga Khan, former governors general, Canadian teachers, an Inuit boy His Excellency met in Repulse Bay, and many others.
But, for Cowichan Valley folks, it’s special that a letter to King is included.
She is the youngest-ever recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award (now the Sovreign’s Award for Volunteers) which recognizes Canadians who have made significant, unpaid contributions to their communities in Canada or abroad.
She was part of the group of 28 recipients of the award when Mr. Johnston re-launched it in 2012 and was 11 years old at the time.
When she was eight years old, King asked her parents for permission to become actively involved in fundraising for muscular dystrophy because she had become concerned while watching her friend Adam Sohye struggle with the disorder.
She dyed her hair pink to capture public attention then shaved it off to raise funds for the cause.
She has since gone door-to-door, participated in fundraising walks and more, raising $14,600, inspiring others while raising public awareness of muscular dystrophy.
In his letter to her, the GG said, “I think I’ve always known that young people can teach older folks plenty. You taught me a valuable lesson: age is no barrier to giving. All of us — whether we’re eight or 80 — can give, because each of us has something special deep within us that is worth sharing. Your special something is your love of a friend: and you used that friendship to take action. I have told your story of giving, and what I’ve learned from it, to boys and girls across Canada to encourage them to follow in your footsteps and find their own ways to give of themselves for the benefit of others.”
He then shared some lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
To thine own self be true
And it must follow, as day the night,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
He said he’s often used that advice in speaking with his own five children and then in his letter reminded King that “life presents us with lots of complications but being true to thine own self enables you to settle a lot of questions the right way.”