To mark Aboriginal History Month in the 150th year of Confederation, the Aboriginal Peoples Committee is inviting the future of Canada to the Senate.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth will “Indigenize the Senate” on June 7, taking over the Senate foyer and Chamber and the Aboriginal Peoples Committee Room for a day of learning and collaboration,

Through this initiative, they will add their young voices to the committee’s study on a new relationship between Canada and First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

This day-long event will have two components: the Indigenize the Senate Youth Forum and the annual Indigenous Youth Leaders at the Senate initiative.

The Indigenize the Senate Youth Forum

About 55 youth between the ages of 16 and 25 in the Ottawa area will come together at the Senate on June 7 for this forum.

For the occasion, the Senate partnered with Youth Ottawa, a local civic-action charity. Youth Ottawa led youth from high schools, Indigenous organizations and the immigration community in designing the agenda.          

After welcoming ceremonies by Elders and senators and a KAIROS Blanket Exercise, the youth will decide on steps they can take toward a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. These ideas will provide a powerful youth perspective for the committee’s study.

Indigenous Youth Leaders at the Senate

Nine inspiring young First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders from across the country were selected from more than 100 nominees put forward by their communities in a public process in April.

These young leaders will tell their stories of community impact and their ideas during a special committee hearing. To watch the live webcast of this hearing, which will take place June 7 from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m., please go to ParlVU.

The youth leaders will also act as role models in the Indigenize the Senate Youth Forum and meet with the Speaker of the Senate and Senate leaders. At that day’s sitting, they will be celebrated in the Senate Chamber as senators speak about their accomplishments on the public record.

The 2017 Indigenous Youth Leaders at the Senate

Andrea Andersen
Andrea is a 25-year-old Inuk from Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, who now lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Growing up, her home was always full of foster children; she learned at a young age about the importance of giving back and the positive changes that result. This past year, Andrea joined protesters at a hydroelectric dam site in Labrador to force the provincial government to listen to Indigenous people's concerns. She is also working on a series of children’s books in Inuktitut to keep the language strong and vibrant among the next generation of Inuit.

Jacquelyn Cardinal
Jacquelyn is a 26-year-old Nehiyaw from the Sucker Creek Cree First Nation on Treaty 8 Territory, Alta, who now lives in Edmonton. She earns her living bridging the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and advancing Indigenous causes through her strategic web communications company, Naheyawin. Through Naheyawin, she helps Indigneous organizations and businesses to get their messages out to a wider audience and she connects Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through creative online engagement.

Perry Kootenhayoo
Perry, 30, hails from Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation and now lives in Edmonton. After a life-changing spinal cord injury, Perry was able to connect with Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients in his own work with recently-injured clients at Spinal Cord Injury Alberta. Perry studied Aboriginal multimedia at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and has worked with community groups YOUCAN (Youth Canada) and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Alberta.

Modeste McKenzie
Modeste is a 22-year-old Dene Métis from La Ronge, Sask. who now lives in the Northern Village of Air Ronge, Sask. Following the suicide deaths of four teenagers in his region in the fall of 2016, Modeste was hired by the Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB) as a youth support worker. He has worked tirelessly to set up after-school programs, chemical-free dances, traditional hand games nights and a family carnival to help youth in that community begin to heal.

Tiffany Monkman
Tiffany, a 30-year-old Métis woman from Winnipeg, has dedicated her career to working with the Indigenous community in the financial sector. After serving as President of the Association of Aboriginal Commerce Students at the Asper School of Business, she went on to work for First Nations Bank of Canada and Aboriginal Business Education Partners. She also mentors Indigenous youth through a partnership with the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business at Cape Breton University.

Jennifer O’Bomsawin
Jennifer is a 22-year-old Wendat and Abenaki from Odanak, Que. A political science major at the University of Sherbrooke, she was elected as Female Spokesperson for the Quebec and Labrador First Nations Youth Network in August of 2015 and is a representative on the Assembly of First Nations Youth Council. Since joining the council, she has focused her energy on finding solutions to the suicide crisis that has gripped many First Nations communities.

Stephen Puskas
Stephen is a 34-year-old Inuk from Yellowknife, NWT. He now lives in Montreal, Que. He has been creating bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities ever since moving to the south, including organizing the first ever Inuit film festival in Montreal and hosting panel discussions and talks at the universities of Concordia and McGill. His work in this area has encouraged new approaches to Indigenous representation in Quebec and Canadian cultural institutions. He has also worked with the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Network and Vigie Autochtone, a partnership between Montreal police and the city’s Indigenous community.

Holly Jane Sock
Holly is a 26-year-old Mi’kmaq RCMP Officer from Elsipogtog First Nation who is stationed in Tobique First Nation, N.B. Holly has used the gift of her beautiful voice to help revitalize her Mi’kmaq language. In competitions and events like Aboriginal hockey championships, local high school and college graduations, the 2008 Maritime Idol, and the World Junior Track and Field Championships, she has sung traditional and contemporary songs translated into the Mi’kmaq language. She has also recorded an album of nursery rhymes in Mi’kmaq, which is still used in Aboriginal Headstart programs to help young Mi’kmaq learn their language.

Chris Tait
Chris is a 25-year-old from Gitxsan Nation, B.C. He now lives in Vancouver. As a former youth in care, Chris began to investigate how to improve Canada’s foster care system at the age of 15. His work focuses on helping inner-city youth through initiatives like Fostering Change, SafeTeen and the RISE program. He has also advised British Columbia’s Ministry of Children and Family Development on its youth engagement tool kit.


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