The former M.P. for Portage-Lisgar, and leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, has announced the creation of the Candice Bergen Leadership Award. To be handed out annually, the $5,000 grant will be given to a graduating student from Morden Collegiate Institute. 

"I wanted to recognize the young person who, I think probably, was like the kind of young person that I was," explained Bergen. "I showed quiet leadership, and I wanted to recognize a young person from Morden every year who shows that quiet, dependable leadership. They may not have got the best marks. They maybe weren't top of the class, but they didn't need to be top of the class. They needed to show characteristics like integrity. commitment, volunteerism, (and) dependability. I wanted to recognize that, and I wanted it to be a substantial sum of money that would actually help this young person and help their families."

The grant will be available to any graduating student, whether they are planning on going onto post-secondary studies or into the workforce that demonstrates quiet leadership.

"when I look back at what I did as a Member of Parliament, or as the Leader of the Party, I know one of the things that was important was listening to people, was taking time to help people," she noted. "I tried to listen more than I spoke, which I'm sure people seeing me in Ottawa thought I did a lot of talking, but when I was with constituents I really tried to listen. I believe that many young people are those quiet, understated leaders who will go on to have a great impact in their community, with their families and in our country. I really believe they need to be recognized now, and it will have such a huge impact in their lives."

Having grown up in Morden, Bergen wanted to give back to the community and the people who helped shape her as a leader. She stressed this isn't an award for achievement in the traditional sense, but a recognition of leadership qualities that many times are not seen or acknowledged.

"Those are the leadership qualities that are enduring, that continue through thick and thin, through the good times of life, through the bad times of life," said Bergen. "Those foundational qualities, that many times young people have established by the time they're in grade 6,7,8, those young people already have that quality established in their lives, and that will endure no matter what happens in their life."

The first recipient of the award has been selected, and will be announced in the near future.

- With files from Candace Derksen -