Alberta Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards (AAYA)
The Alberta Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards (AAYA) attract nearly 1,000 attendees every year. the AAYAA is; or was, an annual celebration of the many significant accomplishments of Métis, First Nations as well as Inuit youth from across Alberta.
The recognition the award-winners receive encourages excellence; while creating positive new role-models for young people throughout the province.
Aayaa still believes that uplifting our young role-models; is vital for young minds striving to realize the terrific personal potential they possess.
Aayaa recognizes boriginal youth who;
Demonstrates capable leadership in the community and among his/her peer groups.
Exercises a strong desire and commitment to the attainment of educational goals as well as career ambitions.
Show great support and encourages other youth to continue; and persevere in their academic endeavors.
Encourages and enthusiastically participates in multi-cultural or cross-cultural activities; which involve both Aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.
The Alberta Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards (AAYAA) is; or was, an annual gala; which celebrates the achievements of Aboriginal youth from across Alberta, Canada. The award banquet usually takes place every March each year.
The Métis Nation of Alberta Youth Programs Department
This originally developed in 2003 to promote youth initiatives; as well as activities in different sectors of community development. There’s a chance that it was discontinued.
The annual awards gala is; or was, directed and supported by the Rupertsland Institute Métis Centre of Excellence. The idea became so much accepted and supported by various organizations, as well as groups. Also by the community. This is because of the recognition of heritage as well as encouraged participation of youth in education. Along with other basic areas of the society.
The awards were meant to induce encouragement among the youth in their quest to accomplish their goals. As well as to achieve their dreams; hence their continuous strive for excellence. Each year, the community-family, friends, teachers and co-workers in various organizations; are eligible to nominate names of youths with outstanding accomplishments; as well as efforts in eight different categories.
1. Culture & Heritage
2. Volunteer Services
3. Academic Achievement
4. Athletic Achievement
5. Career Advancement
6. Personal Achievement
7. Walking the Red Road
8. Community Leader
Mail your Nomination to: Shannon Souray, Rupertsland Institute, #1450-10060 Jasper Ave. Edmonton, AB T5J 3R8, 780-801-9977
About the Rupertsland Institute
The Métis Nation of Alberta has a history of turning community programs into institutional development. In February 2010, the organization announced another historic decision to develop and establish an education; training and research institute; under an umbrella organization to be called the Rupertsland Institute; Métis Centre of Excellence.
The Rupertsland Institute has since been incorporated as a non-profit (Section 9) company under the Alberta Companies Act. It is governed by a professional Board of Governors comprised of representatives from the Métis business community. As well as the University of Alberta, other academia, and industries; along with the MNA Provincial Council. They have divisions of Research and Professional development, Education, some Endowment Awards; as well as a Training and Employment division.
Youth to Youth
The First Nations Youth are the leaders of tomorrow; which means that they have an integral role in developing the society. More importantly, to mentor. Be role models to other youths.
The human brain is very active between the age of 16 and 39; a stage commonly referred to as youth. It is in these years that people are molded into respectable members of the society.
Unfortunately, it is also the stage where many young, marginalized people can lose track of their lives. They can form addictions. Or choose unhealthy; unproductive lifestyles.
Looking at the Aboriginal Youth Awards:
There are a lot of positive programs that young people can both participate and be engaged in; leading to genuine change.
This post will briefly examine some of the ways that the First Nations youth can empower themselves. As well as others too.
Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation
rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy; as well as sustainable human development.
The importance of education.
Modern society is very competitivesuccess still rests in the formal education system.
Hence, for any young people to effectively succeed and integrate into society; they must ensure that they achieve in some sort of educational program that encourages intellectual growth; as well as innovation.
Often, it is the area of education that is failing many First Nation youths.
Again, peer support could be useful; as well as an empowering tool towards viewing education in a more positive perspective.
Various methods can be employed; such as holding meetings and activities with other youths, who have faced similar challenges; and are achieving success within different areas of education as well as life.
There is still a long way to go…
The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Engaging former drug addicts with the youth.
Holding constructive Safe Sex discussions among peers.
In many societies and cultures, the topic of premarital sex is greatly under-discussed; parents and guardians are not comfortable enough to discuss it with their teenagers; as well as young adults. Furthermore, First Nation women and girls face a whole host of challenges.
One way to ensure that the youth are educated around all areas of sexual health and safe sex is again to utilize youth teachers; as well as facilitators.
Education and an understanding of all sexual issues is key.
In conclusion, a very good way of empowering the next generation in addressing some of the many social issues still faced today by the First Nations, is by youth to youth empowerment.
This can be very instrumental and effective in spreading the messages of hope and progress.
Acceptance of the information and support is more likely if it is given by peers ; who have a true understanding of the issues faced today by First Nation youths.
This method also serves to reduce instances of victimization; as well as stigmatization. It builds and strengthens bonds for the next generation.
True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation.
John C. Maxwell
Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.
George Washington Carver
We, the First Nations are the aboriginals (also known as Indians); who have been living in Canada for thousands of years. The term First Nations was introduced back in the 70s or 80s; since we dislike to be addressed as “Indians”. For more information on terminology click here.
Our ancestors used to rule North America from one corner to another; under the flags of hundreds of different tribes.
However, with the arrival of the European settlers; the natives started to lose their influence. Soon, the new power emerged over the horizon.
Despite being taken over; the first peoples of Canada have always been known for our peaceful interaction with our European counterparts.
Through peace agreements and commerce; both sides learned to coexist, avoiding unnecessary violence.
First Nations Education
Although a native like me can take admission to almost any Canadian school or college; there are established institutions designed solely for native students.
There are well over five hundred First Nations elementary and secondary schools available on reserve lands. A large portion of the natives enroll their children in these schools.
However, statistics show that more than half of the native students do not complete high school; while only about 10% to 15% non-natives fall under those criteria.
First Nations Education: Post Secondary Education (PSE)
We have around 60 post secondary institutions in Canada that offers a wide range of programs to approximately 10,000 aboriginals.
These programs include; adult upgrading, degree, certificate, diploma as well as preparatory programs.
However, there is a huge number of the native population that does not hold any kind of certificate at all.
The situation is even more depressing if you consider the statistics in higher education.
Very few of us attend university for higher education. Despite the fact that there are so many renowned universities in the country; where foreign students are admitted.
Although the Canadian government has passed several acts and came up with education programs for Canadian natives; we haven’t seen a proper implementation of those decisions in reality.
More often than not; you will find a First Nations college with a library that only fulfills the basic requirements.
However, no concrete steps have been taken to upgrade the system to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
I hope someday the situation will change. We will see true reforms to the First Nations education system; so that we can have access to the same facilities that the non-aboriginals enjoy and profit from.
UN: All human people are born free & equal in dignity and rights ~ Article 1
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The term First Nations refers to the Canadian aboriginal people; also known as the Indians; who have been living in the country for thousands of years.
Currently there are more than 600 First Nation bands that are spread all over the country; although more than half of the First Nations people reside in British Columbia and Ontario.
There are approximately 700,000 aboriginal people currently living in Canada.
Elder Sol Sanderson claims that he coined the term ‘First Nations’ in the 1980’s where it came into widespread use. According to other sources; the term was first introduced back in the 1970’s to replace “Indian band”; which was often considered offensive by many aboriginal people.
For more information on terminology; please click here.
Some tribes have adopted the name ‘First Nations‘ to replace the term ‘Band’ from the name of their community.
First Nations settled in Canada by 40000-10000 BC.
Gradually the population divided itself into different tribes; whom developed their own culture as well as life style.
The European Contact
However, prolonged contact was not developed until a later period; during the 17th and 18th century when the Europeans established their permanent settlements.
According to the European historians; the aboriginals were quite friendly with the settlers and used to trade with them.
Besides trading, the First Nations also played a role in the Colonial conflicts. They joined the French during the colonial wars. Also, they fought bravely side by side with them against the British and their native allies.
“…We all have the power to self heal as we have lived for 1000’s of years;
the culture has been in us for 1000’s of years. It takes care of us. We are all
medicine to one another”
Elder Sarah Modeste, (British Columbia, 2002)
Elders are considered to be the gatekeepers of the First Nations culture, history, wisdom as well as languages..
Elders traditionally played a huge role in the learning process of the aboriginal people.
In First Nations society; elders are considered highly respected teachers; as well as role models; that help guide their people on the right path with their knowledge and wisdom that is passed down from generation to generation.
The role of the elder does not only involve preserving ancient aboriginal customs; as well as history. The elders have also influenced various cultural as well as social revolutions. They have been involved in national politics.
‘kispin ki-nohté néhiyawanáwáw, ta-néhiyawiyék pohko’
If you want to learn your language you need to use it.
Freda Ahenakew, Muskeg Lake First Nation Elder
Government of Canada and the First Nations
The Canadian Government maintains a very close relationship with the First Nations and has taken many initiatives over the years to ensure that the First Nations are not deprived of their rights whilst preserving their own, unique culture.
These initiatives have had varying degrees of success.
Canada First Nations Governance
The Indian Band, also popularly known as the First Nation Band is the basic unit of the Aboriginal governance.
Typically, a First Nation is represented by a band council, chaired by an elected chief.
Although some councils do still have chiefs who take that position based on hereditary rights.
A band council carries out certain administrative tasks within their respective bands.
They are considered to be a vital organization within the legal framework that negotiates with the Canadian Government about existing treaties and discusses the prospects of future agreements that will protect the interests of all sides.
Speaking of bands…
‘Anishinaabe, Métis, Coastal Salish, Cree, Cherokee. We have nothing much in common.
We’re all aboriginal and we have the drum. That’s about it.’ Thomas King
Over the course of several centuries, numerous treaties were signed between the First Nations and the British Crown.
Later the Canadian Government signed new treaties on Indian affairs and also recognized some older ones to ensure a peaceful coexistence between the aboriginals and non-aboriginals in Canada.
Some of the most important treaties were signed involving the purchase of lands.
The treaty of 1763 gave the British colonials the power to exclusively purchase lands from the First Nations.
Prior to the Royal Proclamation, several other treaties were also signed including the Upper Canada treaties and the Vancouver Island treaties under which, the First Nations surrendered their land rights in these locations in exchange for benefits like the rights to hunt and fish, annual payments etc.
The British entered into several treaties with the First Nations between 1871 and 1921. These treaties allowed the Canadian government to pursue resource development and agricultural projects in both Northern and Western Canada.
Although these treaties were signed long ago, the modern Canadian authorities, together with the Department of Indian Affairs still recognize their significance.
In an announcement made in January 7, 1998, the Government of Canada recognized the significance of the historic treaties signed between the Crown and the Aboriginals and added that these treaties will play an important role in the decision making process to ensure cooperation between the aboriginals and non-aboriginals in future.
The First Nations are an important part of Canadian history and culture.
These people preserve the ancient customs that used to dominate the North American regions.
Although times have changed and their are still some rather large issues of inequality to be addressed, progress seems to be on the horizon. Please let the quote below be a thing of the past.
Our relations with the Indians have been governed chiefly by
treaties and trade, or war and subjugation.
(Nelson A. Miles)
Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
Martin Luther King Jr.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding Canada’s First Nations in recent years, however one of the major problems that hasn’t been addressed is in the area of health. This is a situation that must not be allowed to continue.
Considering Canada is regularly held up as an example of excellent First World health it makes no sense that the rates of the diseases listed below, remain so high amongst the Aboriginal population:
- Hepatitis A
- Myocardial Infraction
- Tooth Decay
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
- Breast Cancer
- Lung Cancer
This fact is made worse when one considers how much lower the rates for these disease are in the non-Aboriginal population.
The root of this shameful difference lies in the fact the First Nations are the only population in Canada denied provincial standards in … well everything.
First Nations are denied in general
- Provincial health care
- Their buildings are not subject to provincial standards
- Their water regularly fails to meet provincial standards
- And their schools do not meet anyone’s standard of competence
This failure of basic provisions applies to those of Native descent who continue to live on the Reservations. However, those who have moved to an urban environment can expect the same abject poverty and associated health risks.
When combined with the lack of safety First Nation people suffer in terms of stereotyping as well as racism within the health system; it works to prevent early detection. Along with continued care. So people tend to wait until they are fairly ill to seek help. Then will usually stop treatment before it’s completed.
If it sounds like a depressing situation that would be because it is; and that hopelessness has resulted in young people given to suicide as well as other destructive behavior.
In fact suicide; as well as self-inflicted injuries are the top reasons for death amongst First Nation people under 45 years old.
In practical terms
This puts suicide rates among this population at 5-6 times the national average.
Causes include the following; which are mainly associated with poverty:
- Substance abuse
- Lack of Housing
- Inadequate nutrition
- Limited opportunities
52.1 % of First Nation children are born into poverty, which is the result of lacking education (only 31% graduate high school) and resulting lower pay median.
However, things are improving – even if the overall health of the Aboriginal people continues to lag compared with the general population.
Life expectancy has risen 10 years for men and 7 years for women in this group.
Improved water and sewage treatment have helped drop infant mortality rates.
Better living conditions and improved access to medical services have also helped.
With that said, there are still major challenges here; overcrowded conditions and poor housing for example. It is therefore the duty of all Canadian citizens to address these concerns with politicians. This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue; as it is a blot on everyone in this great country.
First Nation people deserve the chance to improve. But they cannot learn and so they can’t escape poverty with it’s attendant ills.
This isn’t right ; Canada is a First World country. There should not be a sector of institutionalized Third World conditions.
Raise your voice and help end this travesty.
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