Anahim Lake resident Susan Leon has noticed a change in her foster grandson, Trent Leon.
That’s after Trent, a Grade 6 student at Anahim Lake Elementary/Junior Secondary School (ALEJSS) was chosen as the school’s Breakfast Club of Canada Ambassador and was afforded the experience of a lifetime to meet his hero and idol, Montreal Canadiens all-star NHL goaltender and ALEJSS alumni, Carey Price, who is the national ambassador for the BCC.
The experience, which began in January of 2015, was part of a documentary project by the Air Canada Foundation and the Breakfast Club of Canada, an association that provides warm breakfast and lunches to students across the country on a daily basis.
Filming for the project, funded by the Air Canada Foundation and a part of the hit Montreal reality show, 24 CH, lasted roughly a month.
Once in Montreal Trent, who flew first class with ALEJSS principal Mikel Brogan and the film crew, personally delivered a poster of a school art project — a wood and glass tile bench consisting of aspects of the Ulkatcho culture and incorporating Price — plus handmade cards from all the kids at the school showing their appreciation to their hero during an on-ice session.
Trent and Brogan, along with Carey’s wife, Angela, and the founder of the BCC, Daniel Germaine, later watched Price earn first star honours against the Nashville Predators.
“I took Trent in when he was five,” Susan said. “He had it really rough … lots of hardships in his childhood. He kept to himself but now with everything that’s happened I think it opened his heart and eyes.
“[In the short film] I could tell he was comfortable with Carey playing hockey. It made him proud to be there for the students and see what Carey’s doing for their school.”
Viewers weren’t the only ones moved by the story — Carey himself was visibly touched when Trent, who says few words throughout the project, is excited to give the hockey star a gift in return.
During the film Susan encourages Trent to become more outspoken, and when he does, the expression left on Price’s face while reading the handmade cards is emotional.
“While watching the game Angela mentioned how she and Carey had a long discussion about the card and the project the day before and how much it meant to him the students and staff would go through so much effort to extend their appreciation to him,” Brogan said.
“When Trent left he gave Carey a big hug. I think it was nice for him to connect with Carey like that. Trent’s kind of shy, and Carey probably sees a lot of himself in Trent — he’s not a big talker, either.”
The glass tile bench, which was created by Brogan’s parents, internationally-renowned artist Marina Papais and master woodworker Daniel Collett, depicts a large sun rising over Anahim Peak symbolizing Price’s inception. Further right on the bench is a large glass star made of a reflective mirror, symbolizing Price’s success.
“The idea for this was so the students could look into the star and see their own faces,” Brogan said. “It’s been a huge thing for the community out here, and it was really neat how we were able to tie in our school art project.”
Susan gave a speech to staff and students following a viewing of the video at ALEJSS on Monday.
“I just let the class know if Carey could do what he’s done as a goalie for Montreal they need to reach out and be like Carey,” she said.
“For Trent, he wants to get out and do more things, but time will tell when he’s ready. He’s started to do more sports — he’s playing floor hockey, he’s playing soccer which he enjoys. Today, I think he’s ready.”
For those in Anahim Lake Brogan encourages anyone to stop by the school to view the bench, now on permanent display at the front entrance. He also hopes more schools will see what a benefit the BCC program is and will apply.
The film, produced by Tara Johns and directed by Jeremie Levesque, along with an editor, multiple cameramen and a sound technician, can be viewed at https://youtu.be/4m3ky6Mw28k In just five days the video has reached almost 200,000 views on YouTube.
– Inset photo by Alexander Bussiere