Mackenzie Investments unveils 2012 winner of Canada's Top Teen Philanthropist

Jan 31, 2013, 09:00 ET from Mackenzie Investments

TORONTO, Jan. 31, 2013 /CNW/ - Mackenzie Investments is pleased to announce that Firrhaana Sayanvala of Cambridge, Ontario has been selected by an esteemed judging panel as the 2012 winner of Canada's Top Teen Philanthropist. Firrhaana receives $2,500 in cash and $5,000 that will be directed in her name to the charity of her choice.

Firrhaana, 17, has been actively involved in Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank for more than four years. According to its mission statement, this charity provides both emergency and proactive services that help people recover from or avoid another crisis. Best known for food distribution, the charity also offers a broad range of support programs that assist people to become, and remain, self sufficient.

When Firrhaana began volunteering at the food bank, this student at Galt Collegiate Institute was impressed by the staff's supportive, friendly and non-judgmental approach. Over the years she has been involved in a number of fundraising events, often in a leadership role, to assist the food bank, plus she has assumed an activist role of promoting the charity and recruiting others to lend a hand. Through Firrhaana's tireless efforts, support for Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank has grown, allowing the charity to help more people in need, when they need it most.

"Firrhaana is an outstanding contest winner," said Brad Offman, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy at Mackenzie Investments. "She is humble, articulate and passionate about helping the less fortunate through countless hours of volunteering. She's living proof of the power of grassroots philanthropy."

Congratulations to the finalists
The judging panel revealed that choosing a winner was the toughest decision in the contest's history. The five finalists are commended for their outstanding philanthropic efforts in 2012. Each of the following finalists receive $500 and an additional $500 for the charity of their choice.

Jenna Cottrill, 17, Wallace, NS: When a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, Jenna wanted to help. She found a Canadian-registered charity called God's Littlest Angels Canada (GLA) that is dedicated to providing intensive nursery care for premature, malnourished and abandoned children in Haiti. Jenna engaged her community to collect relief supplies, plus she started a successful fundraiser by creating and selling cards and bookmarks featuring pictures drawn by children in the GLA orphanage. Jenna even spent two weeks volunteering in Haiti with plans for more in the near future.

Hannah Dalton, 17, Montreal, QC: Hannah is committed to helping children around the world receive an education, escape poverty and avoid exploitation. A news report about horrendous working conditions for children at a clothing factory in India was the catalyst for Hannah to help impoverished children gain an education that may ultimately free them from abusive child labour situations. Her chosen charity, Free The Children, fights social injustice and gives a voice to the voiceless. Hannah has collected almost $4,000 from various fundraising events towards building a much-needed school in Sierra Leone.

Arielle Grondin, 16, Tecumseh, ON: Having battled the debilitating and life-threatening effects of cystic fibrosis (CF) since birth, Arielle's commitment to Cystic Fibrosis Canada is both wholehearted and highly personal. She has rallied her community through a fundraiser called "Music for Life," an event featuring young performers that Arielle created to raise awareness of CF. This event has gained so much support that media interest has been widespread, helping to promote her charity even more. Inspirational and passionate, Arielle is doing everything she can to help find a cure for CF.

Paige Roper, 17, Pitt Meadows, BC: Paige's journey to becoming a spokesperson for BC Children's Hospital Foundation was filled with challenges. At 10 she was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. While being treated at BC Children's Hospital, Paige encountered enormous pain and suffering - both her own and that of other children. When she recovered the foundation asked her to be a spokesperson, a request she fulfilled without hesitation. Paige speaks at many fundraising events and writes a blog for the foundation, motivating many people to provide financial and emotional support to this worthy cause.

Shannon Wong, 17, Richmond Hill, ON: Involved in her charity for over seven years and 2,000 hours of volunteering, Shannon is clearly committed to the cause. Free The Children works worldwide to help remove barriers like poverty and exploitation so children can lead active, meaningful lives. Touched by the inequity and deprivation many children face, Shannon has taken action and mobilized others to get involved. She participates in fundraising events and campaigns, committing her own money - from her part-time job, academic competition cash awards and donations she requests in lieu of birthday presents - to support her charity.

This year's judging panel
The panel was comprised of high-profile individuals with expert knowledge of philanthropy and children's issues. The judges were Danielle Bedasse, Executive Director, Jays Care Foundation; Carlos Bustamante, Host, YTV's The Zone; Craig Kielburger, Founder, Free The Children; Brad Offman, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy, Mackenzie Investments; and Jane Wu, 2008 winner of Canada's Top Teen Philanthropist.

How Canada's Top Teen Philanthropist was chosen
With hundreds of applications to consider, the panel judged the candidates on a number of factors, including: the breadth of their volunteering and fundraising efforts; leadership and creativity; hands-on involvement in their philanthropic pursuits; length and level of their involvement; and impact on their community and their charity.

Mackenzie Investments was founded in 1967, and is a leading investment management firm providing investment advisory and related services. With $61.5 billion in assets under management as at December 31, 2012, Mackenzie Investments distributes its investment services through multiple distribution channels to both retail and institutional investors. Mackenzie Investments is a member of the IGM Financial Inc. (TSX: IGM) group of companies. IGM Financial is one of Canada's premier financial services companies with $120.7 billion in total assets under management as at December 31, 2012. For more information, visit




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Image with caption: "Firrhaana Sayanvala (CNW Group/Mackenzie Financial Corporation) (CNW Group/Mackenzie Investments)". Image available at: