Mar. 05, 2018

National Meaning of Home youth writing contest raises $170,000 for Habitat for Humanity

Nine-year-old winner chooses Habitat for Humanity Manitoba to receive $50,000 grant

Genworth Canada is pleased to announce the winners from the 11th annual Meaning of Home contest in support of Habitat for Humanity Canada. Over 7,000 grade 4, 5 and 6 students’ from coast to coast submitted entries expressing what home means to them.

This year, the grand prize winner of the Meaning of Home contest is nine-year-old Ryan Mota, from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ryan wrote about ancestors, family and hope in his winning essay. He has chosen Habitat for Humanity Manitoba as the beneficiary of his $50,000 grant, providing him with the opportunity to make a difference in his community by helping to build a home for a family in need of housing. Along with the ability to direct his grant, Ryan will receive an iPad, a pizza party for his class, and a $1,000 donation to his school.

“We are very proud of this initiative as it continues to increase awareness about the need for affordable homeownership in Canada,” said Stuart Levings, President and CEO of Genworth Canada. “It is rewarding to see our youth take great pride in their homes and families with words of hopes and dreams; we are pleased to see this contest positively impacting so many students across Canada.”

Habitat for Humanity Canada’s model of affordable homeownership helps families in need of housing buy their own home. Habitat homeowners volunteer up to 500 hours and pay an affordable mortgage geared to their income, helping them build a strong foundation and the financial stability to help plan for their children’s futures.

Since the Meaning of Home contest launched in 2007, the national contest has received more than 50,000 essays from elementary school students. The contest has helped to direct more than $1,000,000 to Habitat for Humanity Canada and local Habitats in every province and territory.

Selected among more than 7,000 submissions across the country, Ryan’s winning entry describes what home means to him in a thought-provoking poem, which you can read in full on the Meaning of Home website. Below is an excerpt:


To me a home is a place where I feel secure
From the rain, the snow
And all of my fears.
A home is a place where I am free to play
And would love for all others
To have fun in this way.

“While we want to protect our children from the harsh realities of life, sometimes we forget how many of our children are already living that reality,” said Mark Rodgers, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. “The families who apply to become Habitat homeowners are making incredibly difficult decisions every day. Do I pay the rent today? Or do I buy food? That’s why the Meaning of Home contest is so important – it helps raise awareness amongst the leaders of tomorrow about one of today’s most concerning problems, affordable housing. It shows them that they have the power to make a difference.”

Eleven runners-up from across Canada have each been awarded a $5,000 grant to direct to the local Habitat for Humanity of their choice. In addition, 11 classrooms will enjoy a pizza party courtesy of each winning entrant. The 11 runners-up and their Habitat for Humanity beneficiaries are:

  1. Ayomipo Olutoto, Winnipeg, Manitoba – Habitat for Humanity Manitoba
  2. Keira Finn, Peterborough, Ontario – Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region
  3. Catharine Marcus, Scarborough, Ontario – Habitat for Humanity GTA
  4. Samara Jacob, Whitehorse, Yukon – Habitat for Humanity Yukon
  5. Kiawna Leas, Whitehorse, Yukon – Habitat for Humanity Yukon
  6. Evan Papps, Victoria, British Columbia – Habitat for Humanity Victoria
  7. Madisen Fehst, Kamloops, British Columbia – Habitat for Humanity Kamloops
  8. Abigail Smith, Paradise, Newfoundland – Habitat for Humanity Newfoundland and Labrador
  9. Faith Ross, Paradise, Newfoundland – Habitat for Humanity Newfoundland and Labrador
  10. Nada Aiyar, Blainville, Quebec – Habitat for Humanity Quebec
  11. Livia Carpentier-Gravel, Blainville, Quebec – Habitat for Humanity Quebec

Students were also invited to submit videos describing what home means to them for a chance to win additional prizes. View the winning video from Jayson Brown from London, Ontario, at www.meaningofhome.ca.