TORONTO, April 4, 2013 /CNW/ - On Wednesday, April 10th Toronto's Aboriginal, business and not-for-profit communities will gather to celebrate the achievements of six Aboriginal women and youth at the Minaake Awards.
In Ojibwe, Minaake means "people who are walking a good path." This year's awards, were created by the Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto to recognize the achievements of women and youth in the Aboriginal community who often go unnoticed.
Sponsored by the TD Bank of Canada, the awards are being held at the TD Bank Tower (66 Wellington Street West 54th Floor Toronto, ON M5K 1H6) from 6:00 pm -8:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased at http://guestli.st/142815. Sandra Laronde, founder of indigenous performance company, Red Sky, and Director of Aboriginal Arts at the Banff Centre will be the Master of Ceremonies.
This year's winners are making a difference in the lives of Aboriginal people in the City of Toronto in the areas of Leadership, Advocacy and Human Rights, Culture Keepers, Youth, Two-Spirited/LGBT and in Walking the Good Path.
Award recipients include from Katherine Hensel, one of top litigators in the country who consistently wins victories for Aboriginal rights in Canada, and Sara Luey, a mother of four who has rebuilt her life after overcoming being taken from her family as a child of the '60s scoop and 15 years life of homelessness and drug addiction.
2013 Award Winners
Challenger (Youth) Award
Krystal Abotossaway from Aundeck Omni-Kanging First Nations and grew up in Regent Park. She has consistently achieved high marks in her Human Resource Management program at York University while dedicating herself to her family — helping her mother, who has cerebral palsy, to raise her 7-year-old brother, and assisting her father who struggles with addiction. Growing up, Krystal quickly recognized the need to advocate for equality for Aboriginal people, disabled people, women, and youth. Her volunteer work at York is dedicated to this pursuit, whether she's working in the Aboriginal Leadership and Mentorship Program, at the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services or on the pow wow committee. At just 21-years-old, Krystal is already an essential part of the Aboriginal community in Toronto, setting a positive example for others and doing it with humility. Her passion for diversity and inclusion will continue to be put into action this year when she graduates — she's already been offered a position at RBC's diversity unit.
For the last 22 years, Tracey King, has worked tirelessly to help community members achieve excellence in their lives — from finishing school, to finding jobs, to advising universities and government on Aboriginal education — Tracey has done it all in her 22-year career. Her spirit name is Essinhs Kwe (Little Shell Woman), she is Ojibway and Pottawatomi, Otter clan, and a member of Wasauksing First Nation. As a single parent, she raised her son Lucas (Black Bear), who's now 18-years-old. While teaching and leading others, Tracey is a lifelong learner herself, recently completing her Masters in Higher Education at the University of Toronto. As the Aboriginal Human Resources Consultant at Ryerson University, Tracey advises the university on how it can promote and advance Aboriginal faculty and staff on campus. She calls this "securing and advancing our Aboriginal Intellectual Capital," — something she's done in Toronto for the last two decades. She also serves on the board of the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada.
Culture Keeper Award Affectionately known as "Grandma Rose," to the thousands of children and youth at Toronto's First Nations Public School, Rose Logan shared Aboriginal culture and language with several generations of young people in Toronto. A jingle-dress dancer, Rose was from the Marten Clan and originally from Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island and was a member of the Muncee Delaware First Nation. She worked as an Ojibwe language teacher after finishing the Ojibwe Language Teachers Program at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. Always willing to share a story or teaching with anyone who asked, Rose always carried herself with grace and kindness — and she walked in "that good way." Grandma Rose Logan walked on to the spirit world on January 26th, 2012.
The Good Path Award
Sara Luey is a remarkable woman of Cree and Soto decent and a member of the Swan River First Nation who has reclaimed her own destiny. As a child of the 60's scoop, Sara suffered many of the trials experienced by those growing up in the child welfare system. As a teen mother, Sara fled an abusive relationship and later struggled with severe drug addiction, poverty, and homelessness for almost 15 years. At the age of 32, Sara learned she was pregnant — it was then that she promised herself that she would get clean for her baby's sake. Today, she lives in her own apartment with her son Spencer, who is in Junior Kindergarten. In 2010, Sara enrolled herself into the Finding My Way (FMW) Program at Anishnawbe Health Toronto and was accepted into the Community Health Worker Program (CWP) at Anishnawbe Health Toronto. Despite fighting the child welfare and criminal justice system for years, Sara has always maintained a generosity of spirit, a willingness to forgive and humility. She now plans to become an Addictions Counsellor and continues to raise her son in a positive and healthy way.
Advocacy and Human Rights Award After leaving home at 14-years-old, Katherine Hensel paid her way through university and law school, where she was a competitive rower and a new mother. Since being called to the bar in 2003 Katherine's work as a litigator has focused on making the rights and voices of First Nations people across the country heard and respected. Early in her career, she left prestigious firm, McCarthy Tétrault to become an Assistant Commission Counsel to the Ipperwash Inquiry. In 2007, she joined Stockwoods LLP before founding her own law firm, Hensel Barristers, two years ago. Hensel Barristers is frequently called on to represent First Nations and indigenous organizations in some of the most important legal challenges in Canada. Katherine acted as counsel to the Native Women's Association of Canada at British Columbia's Missing and Murdered Women's Inquiry, and, last year she represented Attawapiskat First Nation in its successful application in to have the imposition of third party management by Canada declared unlawful. Much of her important work she has taken on at no charge, all the while running a daily practice where she helps her First Nations clients fight child welfare disputes, and teaches Aboriginal Rights at her alma matter, the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law. Katherine is Secwepemc.
Corena Ryan is of Ojibway and Italian decent, and a mother-of-two who takes pride in having a spirit name, spirit helpers, and traditional colours. At a time when there was a lot of fear over AIDS, Corena heard about the mistreatment that some of her community members were suffering near the end of their lives and volunteered as a palliative caregiver at 2- Spirits of the First Nations. She went on to work there as the Volunteer Coordinator for 11 years, supervising volunteers to help Two-Spirited and Aboriginal men and women living with HIV/AIDS. Corena's innovative programming brought happiness and holistic healing to her clients — she offered everything from storytelling and medicine picking to drag queen shows and a softball team. Her career has come full circle, today she is the Client Care Coordinator at 2 Spirits, where she helps clients plan end of life logistics and assists with hospice and palliative care.
**The Awards are being held at the TD Bank Tower (66 Wellington Street West 54th Floor Toronto, ON M5K 1H6) from 6:00 pm -8:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased at http://guestli.st/142815.
About the Native Women's Resource Centre
The Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto (NWRCT) supports Aboriginal women and their children in the Greater Toronto Area. The centre offers life- enhancing resources, cultural ceremonies and teachings, skill development, and programs to build capacity and celebrate Aboriginal cultures.
The work and direction at the Centre is guided by the Seven Grandfather teachings: Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth. The teachings, traditions, and cultures are incorporated in all of its activities.
NWRCT is the recipient of the 2012 City of Toronto's Aboriginal Affairs Award, Toronto Community Foundation's Vital Peoples Grant, Metcalf Foundation's Opportunities Fund Grant and Atkinson Foundation's Poverty Relief Grant.
Visit us at: nwrct.ca
SOURCE: Native Women's Resource Centre Of Toronto
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