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Women’s rights, global warming among topics at French speech competition

Five finalists selected to compete at the provincial level next month
Mataya Dorland-Meagher (left to right), Dominique Kozyn, Fiona Black, Naiya Dowker and Ida Shams have been selected to compete at a provincial French speech competition at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus on May 5. (Kirsten Young Photography)

Female rights, veganism, chickens, global warming, why dogs shouldn’t get put down after they bite someone may seem like topics one would right encounter in an essay from post-secondary students.

But they are ones a handful of students from the Sooke School District have chosen to tackle as part of a provincial public speaking competition next month.

Ecole John Stubbs students Fiona Black, Ida Shams, Mataya Dorland-Meagher, Dominique Kozyn and Naiya Dowker have been selected as finalists as part of Concours d’art oratoire – a public speaking competition in French – which took place at the school this month.

Students wrote, edited and memorized their speeches in French before presenting them in front of their respective classes. Teachers than chose the top three students from each class who presented at the district level earlier this month. The finalists will compete at the provincial finals at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus on May 5.

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“I’m pretty excited. I don’t think I’m nervous,” Dorland-Meagher said.

Being vegan for most of her life, Dorland-Meagher decided to educate people on the reasons why she’s a vegan, including the affect animal agriculture has on the planet. She also notes a number of pop stars such as Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande are vegan.

Grade 7 student Fiona Black wrote about women’s rights around the world and how they compare to male rights. Specifically, her speech talks about the fact that girls are not allowed to go to school in some countries, how the price of feminine products differ from masculine products, and the gender wage gaps that exist.

“I don’t think that it’s fair that guys can have more advantages in some areas,” said Black, who competed at provincials last year. “I’ve also been very inspired by Malala. She’s a huge inspiration to a lot of people around the world.”

Ida Shams spoke about global warming and the affect it has on the planet. She touched on the ways people can reduce their overall consumption including using LEED lights, washing clothes by hand, and reducing meat consumption.

“I wanted to participate because I wanted to share my thoughts on what I think about global warming,” she said.

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Twelve-year-old Dominique Kozyn wrote her speech on why dogs should not be put down when they bite people and enjoys speech writing because it allows her to express herself.

Naiya Dowker’s speech was about the four chickens she looks after, and the different coloured eggs and feathers they have.

All agreed, the key to writing a good speech is finding a topic one’s passionate about.

“Figuring out what we’re going to talk about and making sure it’s something I care about, then it’s easier to present,” Dorland-Meagher said.

Concours d’art oratoire is an annual event organized by Canadian Parents for French Sooke district chapter.

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