Angel Magnussen really is the Nicest Person in Canada.
The Port Alberni youth earned the iconic title from Roots Canada this week, after a nationwide search to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.
“She laughed and cried happy tears when they told her the news,” said Angel’s mother, Cheryl Magnussen.
Angel said it was “cool” to win the Nicest Person award, because it will help her continue to help sick children in Canada.
Magnussen is also being considered for a $50,000 Island Savings Community Grant from the online website Volinspire. She was nominated for both contests at approximately the same time.
Roots Canada thought Angel was the ideal candidate to be named the Nicest Person in Canada because she makes the world a better place, and she’s so passionate about her mission to wrap sick kids in warm hugs. Angel, with the help of her family, set up the charity Hugginz By Angel more than four years ago to make quilts that are sent to sick children. Angel considers the quilts, or blankets, to be “warm hugs” for the children.
Angel has spent many months over the course of her life in hospital, dealing with different health challenges that come along with her Down Syndrome: based on her experience in hospital, she decided blankets would be a good way to help ease the anxiety of other children going through what she did.
“We really felt Angel was someone who is making change in our community,” said James Connell, vice-president of e-commerce and marketing for Roots Canada.
“She is passionate about what she is doing. She’s someone who is very sincere about making the world a better place, not just for the people she helps but also the people around those she helps.”
Each finalist was asked for three charities where they would like to see their $10,000 prize go, and Angel selected her own charity—Hugginz By Angel— as well as the Canadian Down Syndrome Society or Variety—The Children’s Charity. Roots chose Hugginz for the donation. “We really felt Hugginz is…where we could make the most impact for Angel,” Connell said.
The grant “is huge,” says Magnussen. “For us, it really is a miracle. This will carry the foundation for maybe five months. We’re hoping we can get 100 blankets out of this.”
For Magnussen, having her daughter named Canada’s Nicest Person was an emotional moment.
“I don’t even know how to explain that. Individuals that have Down Syndrome are often overlooked,” Magnussen said. “We live in a world that unfortunately does that. Our world is based on perfectionism. Unfortunately, people that are born with Down Syndrome are seen to be not perfect enough. It’s tough, because you worry about what your future’s going to bring for your children.
“The work she does doesn’t just speak for Angel and the ability she has to make a difference in this world; it speaks for all of us. We all have the ability to make this world a better place. Her passion to want to do this every day in her life and to make this her solitary job, that’s something very few people would do,” Magnussen said.
“It gives her huge purpose. Helping sick kids is her purpose.
“I’m really hoping this will open the eyes of more people to the value we all have, that it’s not based on the colour of our skin or what genes we have or what our sexual orientation is.”
Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden launched the Canada’s Nicest Person campaign May 8 on Roots’ behalf. Angel was among the top 10 nominees, and people voted once a day for their favourite nominee. Cheryl Magnussen said she can’t thank the people enough who voted for Angel. “People value this (Angel’s charity); they value helping sick kids. That’s what it means to me, when people vote. They respect Angel.”
Roots is also selling ‘Nice’ buttons and commemorative tins, with 100 percent of the profits going to WE Indigenous Youth Empowerment programming. So others can join the ‘Nicest Canadian’ by helping others too, Connell said.