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At the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards being held Fri., March 6 at Winnipeg's Centennial Concert Hall a spotlight will be shone on the remarkable achievements of 15 Aboriginal Canadians from a variety of walks of life.
Delia Opekokew (Canoe Lake Cree Nation, Sask.) Law Justice: Though she didn't learn English until she was eight years old, urban lawyer and human rights activist Opekokew has spent the subsequent decades making sure her work speaks for itself. Fusing her background as an attorney with her fierce commitment to Aboriginal justice, Opekokew has represented the family of police shooting victim Dudley George, fought for First Nation war veterans, and for the compensation and redress of First Nation land claims. She was a driving force behind the launch of Nova Scotia's Fendi Monster Bag Black
(Flags of Our Fathers), and will feature entertainment by Eagle and Hawk, the Asham Stompers, the Metis Fiddle Quartet, the Summer Bear Dance Group, George Leach and Janet Panic, among others.
the culture of aboriginal groups native to each area, says Jamieson.
After culling through the hundreds of nominations that come from across Canada each year, a jury of past NAAA recipients selects the next batch of winners by evaluating each one's career accomplishments, their backgrounds, the barriers they've faced, and perhaps most importantly their ability to serve as an inspiration to others, Jamieson explains.
As effusive as Jamieson and Keeper are in their praise for the pending event, their excitement can't hold a candle to what this year's winners are probably going through.
Keeper, herself an NAAA recipient, says she's especially appreciative of the awards show's commitment to traditional values.
"We do this to inspire other Aboriginal people to realize their potential, and to share with all Canadians the contributions that Aboriginal people have made to Canada, to their professions, and in many cases to the world," says Roberta Jamieson, president and CEO of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, and executive producer of next week's gala.
"We're honouring people who have worked to forge paths that have enabled generations now to move forward and be really successful in Western society," says Keeper from her home in Winnipeg. "That's part of our experience, our recent experience as a community. Especially at my age, you realize how Fendi Black Zucca Canvas Card Holder far we've really travelled and travelled quickly in a very few decades."
"It recognizes traditional knowledge and traditional activities, and that is what gives us our resilience as a nation of people," she says. "Having had some time under my belt now, one of the things I see as being especially important is that it's our contribution in our own way. And that has its own value. It's different and yet it's still part of enriching Canada."
Chelsea Lavallee (St. Ambroise, Man.) Special Youth Award: At 17, she's the youngest person ever to win the youth award, and after scanning her resume, it's easy to see why. An avid volunteer and master of the Red River Jig, Lavallee uses dance to promote Metis culture throughout Manitoba. Her fancy footwork with the St. Ambroise Youth Steppers Square Dance Team has already helped her nab a 2006 National Metis Youth Role Model Award, a 2006/07 National Aboriginal Role Model Award and a 2007 Manitoba Youth Achievement Award.
Once the winners are chosen, documentary crews compile at home footage of the recipients, so that those in attendance at next week's awards show get a first hand look at the lives they've touched.
The awards show itself is held in a different city each year, and efforts are made to reflect Fendi Wallet Green
Rev. Stan Cuthand (Little Pine First Nation, Sask.) Lifetime Achievement Award: Throughout his life, Cuthand has seized every opportunity to be of service to his people while bridging cultural barriers. He's helped involve Cree speaking people in decision making processes, worked as an interpreter for elders and chiefs meeting with Indian Affairs, translated the speeches of Big Bear and Poundmaker and contributed to First Nation and history curricula at a university level. As well, his tireless advocacy has spanned decades, culminating in his contributions to the drafting of the first constitution of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians.
"The stereotypes that still abound in Canada are all too often the images that we call to our minds when we hear the words First Nation, Metis and Inuit. And it is true that many of our people are in circumstances of poverty, or require attention, but it is also true that we have many success stories. This awards event challenges those stereotypes, breaks down the barriers and really alerts Canadians of the genuinely outstanding accomplishments of Aboriginal people."
Now that the Grammys, the Golden Globes and the Oscars have come and gone, it would appear Awards Season 2009 is already at an end.
The show in Winnipeg, for instance, will be hosted by homegrown TV and film personalities Tina Keeper (North of 60) and Adam Beach Fendi Mini Handbag
"It showcases, especially to the youth, what is possible," says Jamieson. "The choices they have, the fact that there are role models with whom they can readily identify . These are all stories that both enlighten Canadian and inspire our young people to dream, and reach for the stars, and realize their potential."
Representing the best in the realms of the arts, culture, business, law, politics, education and environment (among others), these individuals also serve as role models to Aboriginals and non Aboriginals alike, according to show organizers.
Inspirations to the nation
Candace Grier Lowe (Norway House, Man.) Health: Ignoring the dubious advice of her high school guidance counsellor who recommended against a career path involving university Grier Lowe graduated in 2005 as a doctor of veterinary medicine, one of only a few Aboriginals in the world to achieve this lofty goal. She's continued to blaze a trail as a role model, becoming the first successful candidate to be accepted into the only veterinary dentistry residence and masters degree in veterinary science offered in the world.
But hold up there's at least one more awards show still to come: One that rewards its honorees for their real world accomplishments, not just their performances in movies or music.
Stephen J. He has worked extensively with the United Nations on development and environmental programs, has taught at Ottawa's Carleton University, and currently serves as curator of ethnology for Eastern Maritimes at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Mi'kmaw Family and Children's Services one of the most highly respected child welfare agencies in Canada and has since helped the agency grow to its current level of funding, giving it the ability to target all 13 Mi'kmaw bands in the province. He holds the Canadian record for the 200 metre butterfly, as well as a Canadian relay record and several Canadian national age group records.
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