Guelph Grade 7 student makes it to the final of national public speaking contest

Emmanuel Adewale (center) and his friends watch the results of the 2022 Speaker's Idol competition. (Heather Senoran/CTV Kitchener)

Grade 7 student, Emmanuel Adewale and his friends gathered in the library at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Guelph, watching Adewale on the projection screen on Wednesday.

Adewale was one of 12 finalists in Speaker’s Idol, an annual Canada-wide public speaking competition.

“When I found out I was a finalist I felt very excited,” Adewale said. “I was jumping up and down and running through school.”

There were more than 200 speech submissions from across the country in this year’s competition.

Organizers of the event, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC), said the students were told to write their own speech about any human rights issue. Topics varied from mental health to domestic violence.

The speech had to relate to Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal’s quote: "Information is resistance.”

“It’s a great platform for them to really raise their voices and speak out,” said Avital Borisovsky, with FSWC.

Adewale’s subject was climate change, a topic he said he is very passionate about. He hopes his generation is a catalyst for change and said it is our responsibility to take care of the earth.

“It isn’t something we’re supposed to dump. It’s not something we’re supposed to misuse. It was a gift. And we have to treat it properly,” Adewale said.

His speech, like the other finalists, was three minutes long and pre-recorded.

“Excessive cutting down of trees known as deforestation is another major cause of climate change. That must stop,” Adewale said during his speech.

The judges gave him positive feedback and said he was informative and seemed excited to discuss the topic.

In the end, Adewale placed fifth in the elementary category.

His friends and staff at the school said they are happy for him.

“That sense of accomplishment and proudness, we certainly feel for him,” said Victoria Sheehan, principal at Sacred Heart Catholic School.

Adewale said he is proud of himself and is looking forward to writing another speech for Speaker’s Idol 2023.