Stand up, speak out
Yellowknifer wins chance at penning national TV ad

by Janet Smellie
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 28/97) - When Scott Robertson read there was a contest created by the Brewers Association of Canada for young people to come up with stories about responsible drinking, he didn't have to go far to get material.

As he grew up in Yellowknife, where drinking, like most places in Canada, is a popular pastime for a great many young people, all he had to do was go back to his high school days and write down some experiences (including the message above).

Through "Stand Up, Speak Out, Be Heard," Robertson was one of 5,000 young Canadians to submit their messages on responsible drinking last fall.

Now Robertson and along with two other contestants from Calgary are semi-finalists in the national contest. If he wins, his message will be used by the association during its next nation-wide responsible alcohol use campaign, which includes a television commercial.

Now in his second year at the Calgary Conjoint Nursing program, Robertson, along with the two other semi-finalists, was recently awarded $2,500.

The semi-finalists will now proceed to the national judging panel, along with semi-finalists from B.C./Yukon, Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Quebec.

"It's important for the industry to do this," Robertson said during an interview from Calgary, where he's now going to school.

"I believe it's OK to drink, but to drink responsibly. A lot of people, including many people I know, drink for the wrong reasons."

Robertson, who considers young people drinking irresponsibly worldwide, hopes his messages will help tone down the amount consumed.

"I've been all across Canada and through many parts of the world. Drinking is very prominent, especially with young people who want to try out everything there is to offer. There's no need for this."

Altogether Robertson contributed three messages for consideration, including this blunt story about one of his best friends:

"There was this guy I knew who drank every Friday night until he passed out on the floor. Once I went to a party that he was at and saw him unconscious, half-naked in a puddle of his own vomit and could not understand what it was that was so great about drinking as much as he did.

"Of course he didn't seem to know either, because he could never remember, and since he couldn't remember, he would do it again the next Friday. His friends never drank that much, so why did they let him do it? Some friends. I guess they didn't get it."

Robertson says that, while he's glad he's a semi-finalists, he's especially pleased that the competition recognized where he comes from.

"I'm really glad they chose me. Not just because of what I wrote, but because I'm from the North. I really want people to know the North exists."

As for the prize money, Robertson says it couldn't come at a better time.

"I'm going to use it to finance my education because the Klein government, hell-bent on eliminating its deficit in record time, has cut funding for education big time. There's no regard for students. I'm paying $700 a year more for tuition than I was three years ago. This will really help."