Youth are the leaders of today and tomorrow, believe members of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.
As the committee continues its study on forging a new relationship between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, senators know they won’t be getting the full picture unless and until young peoples’ voices are heard.
That’s why, for the third year in a row, senators invited people from across the country to nominate Indigenous youth from their community for a chance to share their experiences and thoughts with the committee during an official hearing. From identifying challenges to sharing success stories, the committee seeks to learn what millennials think is at the heart of a new relationship and how the Senate can help.
The event will be held in Ottawa on June 6, 2018, and will include other programming designed to give youth an inside look at how Parliament functions, as well as the opportunity to bond with other Indigenous youths from across Canada.
Colette is a proud citizen of the Métis Nation and was born in Matsqui, British Columbia. As the director of youth and Off-Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan (ORAAP) program director for the Métis Nation British Columbia, she works hard to ensure the sustainability of the Métis Nation through youth governance and the creation of effective community-based programs and services. She currently oversees programs and initiatives related to Active Métis Communities, Métis experiences with violence through the Sashing our Warriors campaign and the Métis-ization of post-secondary institutions. She hopes this work will encourage the federal, provincial and municipal governments to recognize the inherent rights of the Métis people under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Spirit is an undergraduate student taking a Bachelor of Arts in Policy Studies and is a volunteer for an advocacy group for people of colour who are part of the LGBT2QIA+ community. At university, he worked on a social innovation project that he helped name Otahpiaaki during its founding in 2016. In Blackfoot, the word describes the moment when the sole and vamp of a moccasin are sewn together. The project’s mission is to support Indigenous entrepreneurs and help realize the recommendations in the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board’s report, Reconciliation: Growing Canada’s Economy by $27.7 Billion. Spirit hopes to contribute to the development of his and other First Nation communities that have suffered from cultural genocide.
Rae-Anne is the president of the National Association of Friendship Centres Aboriginal Youth Council. Working in Friendship Centres, Rae-Anne has worked for her peers by coordinating youth programs and camps for at-risk urban Indigenous young people, provided workshops on heritage, culture teachings, human rights, Friendship Centre awareness, as well as advocated for Friendship Centre youth at various national conferences and events. Through this experience, she has been inspired to continue working with young people and hopes to have a career within the movement. Rae-Anne hopes to assist in creating more sustainable programming for urban Indigenous youth.
Amanda is involved in the Aboriginal Students Council at the University of Manitoba, leading the Women’s Council which she helped create this past year as female co-president. Amanda hopes that this women’s group will offer support to Indigenous women on campus and establish positive relationships with allies on campus. She was inspired to help others after seeing leaders doing incredible things on campus. As an Indigenous woman, she feels it is her responsibility to help guide and nurture those coming after her. To do anything other than that would be disrespectful to the Creator. She hopes to bring awareness to some issues with which students need support and to be leading examples in making positive changes in their communities: language development on campuses (call to action #16 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations) and the dire situation in Northern Manitoba with the washed-out rail line, which has left communities stranded with rising cost of living and decreased resources.
Ruth is a 20-year-old Inuk youth from Arviat, Nunavut. She advocates for suicide-prevention, climate-change prevention and the importance of education. In 2016, Ruth was John Arnalukjuak High School’s Inuktitut valedictorian. Nationally, Ruth won Samara’s Everyday Political Citizen award for drawing on Inuit knowledge and western science to spread awareness of how climate change is affecting Inuit Nunangat. In addition to her community involvement, Ruth is developing her entrepreneurial skills through the Inspire Nunavut Program. She is creating a business plan for a hydroponics greenhouse business. Her goal is to offer affordable options to her community by selling fresh produce grown in Arviat. Ruth is a student of the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program in Ottawa and is learning more about the history of Inuit and Nunavut through the program.
Kieran is a First Nations, Metis, Inuit (FNMI) graduation coach, working to support more than 300 Indigenous students and families in the Keewatin Patricia District. She was the first FNMI graduation coach in Ontario and her program, Four Directions, has expanded to sites throughout the province. Making positive change for Indigenous youth in the public education system is what inspires her to continue her work. Kieran’s goal is to increase academic achievement and graduation rates amongst Indigenous students at the secondary level. This year, her first cohort of students is set to graduate. Historically, approximately 30% of Indigenous students have graduated on time in her secondary school, but with her support approximately 80% are projected to graduate this year.
Theoren is a proud Innu/Naskapi who lives in the remote Northern community of Schefferville, Quebec, where he works at the local gas bar and attends Jimmy Sandy Memorial School. In his spare time he loves participating in cultural activities, like camping in the bush. He is member of the LGBTQ community and hopes to pursue a career in fashion after he completes high school next year.
Kayla is a mental health, youth and Indigenous advocate. Kayla is a therapeutic recreation student at Dalhousie University who hopes to use her education to bring therapeutic recreation to isolated communities across Canada. She has been a leader in Scouts and is now her area’s youth commissioner. She has worked with Nova Scotia Sea School, Phoenix Youth programs and an anxiety camp for children. She speaks of her lived experience with mental-health crises, suicide attempts and homelessness, to both youth and the broader community to share her story of hope.
In her first year of university, Bryanna was one of the first Indigenous employees of the Traditions and Transitions Research Partnership where she worked closely with researchers Dr. Tom Gordon and Dr. Hans Rollman. Through this work, Bryanna learned about her Inuit heritage and culture as well as historical events that were very important in her family, her life and how she practises her culture today. Bryanna also helped with organizing the first-ever International Conference for Inuit Leaders. This year, she is training to become one of the first Indigenous St. John Ambulance first-aid instructors through Indspire. Bryanna aspires to create her own businesses to help Indigenous women who are survivors of human trafficking, violence and sexual assault. She would also like to get a good education so she can serve her Indigenous community with the skills she obtains. Bryanna would like to help to increase Indigenous representation in all areas. It is important to her that she trump and survive her traumas so that she can be the greatest person she can become to provide a leading example for others who might have similar struggles, whether they are Indigenous or not.