Adapted from Tanya Sturgeon's presentation
at SEDA's 25th Anniversary Banquet, 1998

In 1974, a group of Regina and area teachers, who realized the advantages of debate as an educational tool, decided to introduce extracurricular debate and speech activities in their schools. They created the Saskatchewan Elocution and Debate Association, a volunteer-driven, non-profit organization. The Association had humble beginnings, meeting regularly in the President's home while his wife took the minutes of the meetings.

As news of SEDA spread, school debate clubs sprang up around Saskatchewan. Inter-city debate tournaments were launched. One of SEDA's earliest projects was a long-running, televised debate series in 1975. Students came together from across the province to tape debates that aired throughout the season.

SEDA's ability to champion debate and speech broadened in the late 1970's when money from the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture, and Recreation became available. Soon staff was hired to ease the swelling workload of the volunteers. The Association flourished. Step-by-step it implemented new programs, special events, and fresh print and video resources material. Today, SEDA employs two full-time staff members and is governed by an 11 member Board of Directors.

SEDA has contributed significantly to the lives of thousands of Saskatchewan students helping to shape them into confident, responsible adults with the ability to think critically and to defend their beliefs in any forum. Former debaters have gone on to succeed in variety of careers. SEDA is proud count lawyers, teachers, journalists, and Rhodes scholars among its alumni.

To this day SEDA enjoys a high profile among its Canadian counterparts. SEDA is one of the widest-reaching provincial debate organizations in the country. The secret to its success lies in the dedication of its volunteers and the availability of funding to carry out its programs.

Over the years SEDA has been proud to see its debaters enjoy their debating success. In January of 1983 SEDA's Norman Leach of Weyburn Comprehensive became the first Saskatchewan debater ever to win the Canadian Student Debating Federation's Weedon Award for the top English-language debater at the National Seminar. SEDA won this honour again in 1989 thanks to Anshu Prasad of Regina's Campbell Collegiate and in 1991 with Stephania Lucuik of LeBoldus in Regina who was competing in the French category. In 1998, Aden Bowman student Max Shapiro placed first in parliamentary and first overall in combined at the Junior Debate Nationals in Castlegar, BC. And in 1999, Erin Weir, a grade 12 student from Campbell Collegiate in Regina, attended the World Schools Debating Championships in London, England.

SEDA also impacts debate across the country by hosting inter-provincial and national events. In the last ten years SEDA has hosted the 1994 Junior Debate Nationals in Saskatoon, the 1995 Western Canada Debate Championships in Prince Albert, the 1998 National Student Debating Seminar in Saskatoon, and the 2000 Junior Debate Nationals and 2001 Western Canada Debate Championships, both in Edam. SEDA has also recently hosted the 2003 Junior Debate Nationals in Yorkton.

It's clear that SEDA has flourished as an organization, thanks in part to a solid groundwork laid by the founders and early administrators. Over 600 debaters from across the province actively participate in SEDA's programs. Countless others benefit from resource materials SEDA provides to teachers and from in-class workshops. The Association benefits from the invaluable contributions of hundreds of volunteers; in the 2001-2002 program year, nearly 800 people volunteered to help with SEDA events, contributing almost 11,000 hours of their time to debate and speech activities.

SEDA continues to pursue exciting avenues to expand the reach of its programs. In 1999 SEDA produced a ten episode debate series with Access Communications which aired in Regina and area. As well, SEDA assisted the Saskatchewan Branch of the Canadian Bar Association in starting a Student Mock Trial Program. The SEDA Board of Directors is also busy continuing its long-term planning, work that will benefit the Association for years to come.

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