Michelle Young, a broadcasting-television student in her second year at Algonquin College, was visibly emotional after receiving the first Blair H. Tetreault Memorial Award on Oct. 21.
“This means a lot to me,” Young said while tearing up during her acceptance speech at the ceremony and thanking the Tetreault family.
“I took a big risk in switching careers, and it’s touching my heart knowing my name was chosen to represent the values of such a special person. This will go up on the wall and it will stay there forever,” she said.
The annual $4,000 bursary was made possible by a $109,000 endowed gift from the family of Blair Tetreault, who worked in the live sports broadcasting industry for 40 years after graduating the same program as Young in 1981. His son, Scott Tetreault, is also a grad of the program.
Among many notable successes, Blair Tetreault covered the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary for CTV and the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan for CBS. He and his crew won Emmy Awards for their coverage of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
When Tetreault passed away in June 2021, his family decided to honour his memory with an award for students following in his footsteps.
“We wanted to give back because the college afforded Blair the opportunity to have such a wonderful career,” said his brother, David Tetreault.
Matthew McCooeye, the coordinator of the broadcasting-television program, described Tetreault as a “father figure” who worked hard to bring out the best in every member of his crew.
“Thank you for sharing Blair with the rest of us,” McCooeye said to the Tetreault family during his speech. “Blair was the perfect companion for this business. He was someone we admired and tried not to disappoint.”
The Blair H. Tetreault Memorial Award reinforces the values Algonquin College tries to instill in all its students, according to president and CEO, Claude Brulé.
What makes the award unique, Brulé said, is the fact that it’s not just about academic performance.
“Technical skills are one thing, and they are important,” he said, “but warmth and kindness are equally important. It’s about being a good person.”
Young was chosen as the first recipient of this award because she contributed meaningfully to a sense of collegiality among fellow students and professors. She exemplified integrity, caring, learning and respect in addition to earning a GPA of 3.6 or higher in her first year of study.
“We stipulated those criteria because Blair was that kind of person,” said his wife, Louise Tetreault, who presented the award to Young.
“Not only was he strong technically, but he also shared a great deal of warmth and collegiality with his crew and made a point of mentoring people just getting started in their career,” she said.
Young aspires to broadcast live sports and events after graduation, just like Tetreault, and “feel that rush.” McCooeye said he knows there’s a place in the broadcasting industry waiting for her.
Young described the experience of receiving the award and seeing her name alongside Tetreault’s as “extremely validating.”
“I must be doing something right,” she said. “It’s a boost of confidence. I’m on the right track.”