North Saanich student wins $5,000 for Habitat

Ella Baird one of six runners-up from over 7,000 entries in national writing contest.

  • Feb. 13, 2015 7:00 a.m.

Ella Baird holds up her winning submission to Genworth Canada’s annual “The Meaning of Home” writing contest. Ella’s piece was one of seven selected from students across the country and won her a $5

Thanks to one North Saanich student’s interpretation of the meaning of home, Habitat for Humanity Victoria will be receiving a $5,000 donation.

Ella Baird, with her Grade 4 class at Kelset Elementary, entered Genworth Canada’s annual national writing contest, geared to raising awareness and funds for Habitat for Humanity chapters across the country.

“I was speechless,” said Ella of the moment she found out she’d won. “It was probably the most surprising thing that’s happened to me in my life. It’s amazing.”

Ella’s piece was chosen as one of six runners-up from more than 7,000 entries from all over Canada. Her entry won her an iPod, a pizza party for her class and a $5,000 grant to donate to Habitat for Humanity, which she chose to give to a project in North Saanich.

“It feels really good, because I know I’m going to be able to help someone out there,” she said.

Ella’s always been focused on helping other people, said her mom Jolene.

“We’re all so proud of our beautiful girl. She has been an extremely patient, smart, beautiful soul of a human being her whole life,” said Jolene. “Always kind, always helpful. I remember the night, her sitting down and writing her little heart out.”

“It was sort of a poem,” said Ella. “Every line started with ‘Home is a place…’”

“Home is a place where you don’t have to worry about being bullied,” and “home is a place where you are given shelter, safety and coziness.”

The experience of brainstorming the meaning of home with her teacher and classmates emphasized the importance of having a safe place to go, added Ella.

“I think my class really understands more about the meaning of home now, because some people don’t have any homes at all,” she said.

The announcement came as a shock to everyone, including Ella’s teacher, Lynne Willock.

“It’s amazing. It brought tears to my eyes when I found out,” said Willock.

In its eighth year, the annual contest is sponsored by Genworth Canada, which this year granted $125,000 to Habitat for Humanity.

Genworth, a private residential mortgage insurer, supplied one grant of $60,000 to the grand prize winner of the contest, and six grants of $5,000 to the runners-up to donate to their Habitat for Humanity locations of choice. The company also donated $5 to the charity for each entry received.

Ella’s entry and the other winning pieces can be viewed at

For more information on Victoria’s Habitat for Humanity, visit

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