1st place
"Erin Macwhirter, Leaving With Open Eyes"

There comes a point in everyone’s life where one must make radical changes.
By this time next year I will be gone already, moving forward, attaining my goals and making my dreams for the future a reality.
I am seventeen and up until this point the thing I wanted to do most in my life was get out of this town.
Move on with my life in a bigger and better environment.
A young girl filled with excitement, curiosity, and the thrill of the big city overwhelmed me.
What did I have here? Now recently, looking around, opening my eyes, realizing for the first time that don’t I have here?
Here I am in this beautiful town which through it runs a magnificent river, a true pleasure for the eyes.
We live on one of the top ten salmon fishing rivers in the world; people pay thousands of dollars just to spend a week on this marvelous river, which we drive along everyday!
Day after day I pass over the same bridges without noticing my surroundings, the panorama.
I have everything anyone could ever want, here in my hometown.
How can one such as myself take this for granted?
We all need to just stop and realize that the river is not only the backbone of our community, it is so much more.
What about the history? Our river is overflowing with stories; romances, tragedies, successes, the list goes on and on.
And how about the people who have come to fish on the wonderful river of ours?
Like Bing Crosby, Bobby Orr, or President Carter.
Home is where the heart is, and mine is on the Cascapedia River, a little piece of heaven.
The river will be a memory I will never forget. Not only will I miss the Cascapedia, but everything that goes with it.
From swimming on those hot summer days to watching our little town fill with color during the autumn months.
I will miss the floods in early spring and the sheer sheet of ice which blankets our river every year.
It is strange you know, we have such a little town, yet the beauty of our river is so immense.
Who knows where this long road I am about to get on will lead me?
No matter where I go, no matter what I do in life, a little part of me will always be here.
I do plan on returning the summer after my first year in Cegep, but I trust it will be a long, hard wait.
So when I am sitting on that train, and I am over the river on the Cascapedia bridges a warm smile will appear on my face and I will think to myself, this is home.