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Indigenous Youth Leaders

1st Session, 42nd Parliament, Volume 150, Issue 129

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, in celebration of Aboriginal History Month, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has invited nine extraordinary indigenous youth as witnesses to testify this evening on our current study on a new relationship between Canada and First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. As chair of the committee, I wish to welcome all nine participants to Ottawa and to the Senate of Canada.

I have the honour of acknowledging the first three participants, Senator Patterson will honour the next three and Senator Sinclair will conclude and honour the last three.

Honourable senators, I would like to acknowledge Modeste McKenzie. Modeste is a 22-year-old Dene Metis from La Ronge, Saskatchewan, who now lives in the northern village of Air Ronge, Saskatchewan. 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 as a youth support worker. He has worked tirelessly to set up after-school programs, chemical-free dances, traditional hand game nights and a family carnival, to help youth in that community begin to heal.

Second, I would like to acknowledge Jennifer O'Bomsawin. Jennifer is a 22-year-old Wendat and Abenaki from Odanak, Quebec. A political science major at the University of Sherbrooke, she was elected Female Spokesperson for the Quebec and Labrador First Nations Youth Network in August 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. Her leadership was of particular note in the development and roll out of the "AFN NYC Calls to Action on Life Promotion in First Nations communities."

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge Holly Jane Sock. Holly is a 26-year-old Mi'kmaq RCMP officer from Elsipogtog First Nation who is stationed in Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick. Holly has used the gift of her beautiful voice to help revitalize her Mi'kmaq language. She has sung traditional and contemporary songs translated into the Mi'kmaq language at sports and graduation events. She has recorded an album of nursery rhymes in Mi'kmaq which is used in Aboriginal Headstart programs to help young Mi'kmaq learn their language. In 2014, Holly continued to volunteer her time with the youth by becoming an assistant coach for the Elsipogtog Minor Baseball.

Honourable senators, please join me in welcoming these youth leaders. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences at this evening's meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

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