Blackburn Youth Reflect on the Power of Words

by Maureen Forsythe, BCA Youth Director.

In November 2022 Blackburn youth aged 9-14 were invited to think about the power of words, spoken or written, and to write a short fictional story that reflects this theme. Eleven local youth, including 4 boys and 7 girls, took up the challenge. Ten submissions were written in English and one was written in French.

The BCA is delighted to announce that the first place winner of the contest is Theia Taylor for her emotionally charged short story “False Hope”. Theia attends Emily Carr MS and she will receive a cash prize of $150. Follow-up winners are Chloe Smith for her moving meditation on the power of words in “Humanity” and Amber Chu for her evocative story about the power of a compliment in “Echo”. Both of these young writers also attend Emily Carr MS and will receive a cash prize of $75.

The BCA would also like to mention Jack Williams for his insightful story “Ghost Whisper” and Henry MacWha for his finely crafted story “The Leaf Named Liko”. Each will receive a special prize of $50. All winning stories will appear on the BCA website under youth engagement.

Special thanks to our panel of judges: Marina McCarron, a writer from Nova Scotia living in the UK whose first novel The Time Between Us was published in 2021; Kate Beshiri, who will be graduating from the IB program at Colonel By in the spring and Yasmeen Shah, a graduate of the Literary Arts Program at Canterbury High School and Western University who is currently working for the Canadian Coast Guard.


False Hope
By Theia Taylor

“It gets better, I promise.”

And I believed that.

Everyone says that. In movies, if someone’s struggling at the start, they’re better by the end. Something bad happens and things always get better.

Time is supposed to heal all wounds, isn’t it?

After months of this, I told my sister that she was wrong. That it doesn’t get better. Her solution? Give me a slightly more realistic version of what she’s already said.

“The pain never really goes away, you just learn to live with it.”

I shouldn’t have believed her again. She was wrong the first time, so what were the odds that she’ll be wrong the second time as well?

The first part was right. The pain is still here. The gaping hole in my chest that used to be filled up by him — it’s still here and I don’t think it’ll ever go away.

But that gaping hole still torments me every day. It still keeps me up at night. It still makes me cry every time I realise that it’s never gonna get filled back up again.

So my sister was wrong.

It never actually gets better.

By Chloe Smith

There was a tangible absence in my creation. The human race was at war with itself, killing with basic bloodlust. Their societies were full of senseless hierarchy, with no logic to their violence. There was no meaning or substance to them. They were no different from animals; nothing set them apart. They acted with such mindlessness, with no regard for the effects of their actions.

Yet, how could I expect them to look deeper when I had never offered them a way to communicate with one another or contemplate their reality? Thinking of everything I had envisioned for humanity and imagined as the heart of their purpose, I realised what would lead them to their intended compassionate, logical nature. Words!

I pour beautifully intricate language into their world, giving them consciousness and thought. This opens the door to emotions, relationships, and connections. They can now go above and beyond senseless conflict. They can rationally consider themselves and how their actions will affect those around them. Humanity might use these words for war, but despite continual conflict, they will now have a conscience to guide them. Sentience from language will be what marks human nature and sets them apart. There will be highs and lows to the depth that words have brought to their world, but no matter what they collectively suffer, they will persevere.

By Amber Chu

In a quiet rural village near the northern Appalachian Mountains, there lived a small community of people known as the ordinaries. As you might be thinking from this label, these inhabitants were, in fact, pretty ordinary, but the people seemed content living with this simple lifestyle. However, each new day came to feel more and more repetitive, and always with a lingering feeling of wanting something more from this monotonous routine. This is the story of how everything was changed.

That morning began like every other. As dawn broke, the ordinaries woke up and started about their day. The rumors started only like a minuscule whisper – a mysterious new girl in town. They said she was different from anyone they had ever seen, carrying a certain brightness with her, almost as if she was glowing. In fact, it was her and her one small compliment that started it all.

Acts of kindness then started spreading like an echo chortling through the air, the sound waves reverberating back from the great mountain range. This powerful force resounded all throughout this once murky village, lighting it up like a moon in the dark night sky and giving the ordinaries a feeling of uttermost joy that no amount of money would ever be able to buy.

And to think that it all started with a single kind word.

Ghost Whisper
by Jack Williams

There was once a legend. Some villagers say that there is this ghost that will spread rumors of the future. For example, one day it said that a small meteor will hit a mountain in a month. And it happened! But this changed one day when an eight-year-old kid went to school. His name was Martin, he had blue eyes and brown hair. Anyway, he was walking to school, and he heard a small whisper in his ear. “Your teacher will give you a pop quiz today.” Martin knew immediately that this was the ghost. So, Martin went to school. It was a small school made of bricks and stuff. He walked inside and was greeted with a pop quiz. Meanwhile the ghost was floating in air watching over the village. It was getting bored by telling the truth all the time. So, it decided to play a trick. It would say to this boy that he was dumb, and he would think that it’s true. Back to Martin, he was about to start the pop quiz when he heard a whisper in his ear; “You are stupid.” And then Martin thought well I guess there’s no point in school anymore. And then he quit school and ended up being dumb. And that’s why maybe you shouldn’t listen to random voices in your head.

The Leaf Named Liko
By Henry MacWha

Hi, I’m Liko. I am a maple leaf on a branch of a maple tree. I sprouted a bit late and was quite weak. One of the leaves, Jeanie, was a real jerk. She thought that I would never make it. “Just give up and let yourself fall,” she said, over and over. “It’s not like anyone likes you anyways.” Eventually, Jeanie started convincing other leaves to start ignoring me. Whenever someone would talk to me, they would act like I was a person they did not know. Eventually, I started to not talk to anyone anymore and just wanted to complete my life quietly. But there was another leaf, Benigno. Benigno was a really kind leaf, and he would always help me. He always would talk to me if I felt sad, or tell people to stop being mean. One time Jeanie was being mean, and Benigno came up and told her “Jeanie, just go away. You’re not helping anyone.” Of course, she

didn’t go away, (because she was stuck in place) but she did start being less mean. Funnily enough, Jeanie was one of the first to fall, the last words I heard were “I’m sorry.” After that, I fell around the same time as Benigno. I had a bad life, but I hope I get reborn next year.

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