Attracting nearly 1,000 attendees every year, the AAYAA is, or was, an annual celebration of the many significant accomplishments of Métis, First Nations and 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.
Originally developed in 2003, the annual awards gala is, or was, directed and supported
by the Rupertsland Institute Métis Centre of Excellence.
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, and is governed by a professional Board of Governors comprised of representatives from the Métis business community, the University of Alberta, other academia, industry, and the MNA Provincial Council. They have divisions of Research and Professional development, Education, some Endowment Awards, and a Training and Employment division.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding Canada’s First Nations in recent years – but one of the most major problems that hasn’t been addressed is that of health. And honestly that isn’t something that can continue to stand – a person can always start again so long as they have their health, but without that they can only suffer. Considering Canada is regularly held up as an example of excellent First World health it makes no sense that the rates of HIV, hepatitis A, myocardial infraction, tooth decay, FAS, and suicide are so high amongst the Aboriginal population. This is made worst when one considers how much lower this is amongst the non-Aboriginal population.
And the roots of that shameful difference lies in the fact the First Nations are the only population in Canada denied provincial standards in … well everything. They are denied provincial health care, their buildings are not subject to provincial standards, their water regularly fails to meet provincial standards, their schools do not meet anyone’s standard of competence, and they are victims of certain shady practices. But then again, most of this only applies to those of Native descent who continue to live on the Reservations. Those who have instead moved to an Urban environment can expect the same abject poverty and attended health risk, but can actually access provincial medical care. They will still have to deal with discriminating doctors and nurses.
Like most Aboriginal populations there is a deep cultural schism between them and those they seek help from. Part of that is that there is a significant portion of this group who don’t speak an Official language. It’s hard to get the help you need at a hospital or clinic when you can’t adequately communicate. And while there are systems in place like the First Nations and Inuit Branch of Health Canada there are simply not enough interpretation services out there particularly for those in Western cities. When combined with the lack of safety Aboriginals feel in terms of stereotyping and racism within the system, it works to prevent early detection as well as continued care. So people tend to wait until they are fairly ill to seek help, and 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 and other destructive behavior. In fact suicide and self-inflicted injuries are the top reasons for death amongst First Nation people under 45. In practical terms this puts suicide rates among this population at 5-6 times the national average. Causes include depression, substance abuse, lacking of housing, lack of food, and no access to opportunity. 52.1% of these children are born into poverty, which is the result of lacking education (only 31% graduate high school) and therefore having a lower pay median.
However, things are improving – even if the overall health of the Aboriginal people continues to lag 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. 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.
There is no reason that 20-25 % of reserve born children should be burdened with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. There is no reason anyone should have to live in effective mold traps in flood-prone, swampy land. Every citizen deserves access to the Provincial Public Health Services. Every home should meet Provincial Housing Standards. It is a Human Right to have clean drinking water, but instead these people are living under boil water advisories. They deserve the chance to improve, but they cannot learn and so can’t escape poverty with it’s attendant ills. That isn’t right – Canada is a First World country. There should not be a sector of institutionalized 3rd world conditions. Raise your voice and help end this travesty.
We, the First Nations are the aboriginals (also known as the 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”. Our ancestors used to rule North America from one corner to another once under the flags of hundreds of tribes.
However, with the arrival of the European settlers, the natives started to lose their influence and soon the new power emerged in the horizon. Despite being taken over, we, the aboriginals of Canada were always known for our peaceful interaction with the European counterparts. Through peace agreements and commerce, both sides learned to coexist, avoiding unnecessary violence.
First Nations Education
Over the years, the Canadian Government has recognized the importance of creating the same environment where the natives and non-natives can have access to the same educational standards. Although a native like me can take admission to almost any Canadian school or college, they have established other institutions too solely for the 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 shows 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 and preparatory programs. However, there is a huge native population out there that does not hold any kind of certificate.
The situation is even more depressing if you consider the statistics in higher education. Very few of us get to go to a university for higher education despite the fact that we have so many renowned universities in the country where foreign students are getting 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. It is more than often you will find a First Nations college with a Library that is only there just to fulfill the basic requirement.
In a non-native school, an aboriginal facing discrimination and racism is common. Although there are policies to keep that under control, often that simply doesn’t make life any easier for us. I have seen young aboriginals getting frustrated seeing the massive difference between the facilities being provided to the non-native institutions and the ones operated solely for the natives.
The disappointment is even more evident when you see there are enough resources available to the authority to bring changes in the aboriginal education system but yet no concrete steps has been taken to upgrade the system to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
I hope someday the situation will change and 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 have been enjoying.
First Nations are 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.
The term “First Nations” came in use back in the 80s which replaced the term “Indian Band”. Elder Sol Sanderson claims that he coined the term “First Nations” in the 80s while according to some other sources, the term was first introduced back in the 70s to replace “Indian band” which was often considered very much offensive by many aboriginal people. 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 in different tribes, developed their own culture and life style. The Athapaskan, Tutchone and Slavey speaking people settled in the Northeast along with the Tlingit and Tli Cho speaking people. The Haida, Kwakiutl and Salish settled along the Pacific coast. The Blackfoot, Sarcee and Kainai were settled in the plains. The northern woodlands were dominated by the Chipewyan and Cree. Wyandot, Anishinaabe and Iroquois were settled around the Great Lakes. Innu, Beothuk, Maliseet and Abenaki were located along the Atlantic coast. There are many other nomadic tribes out there who used to travel from one place to another and never had any specific settlement.
The European Contact
The First Nations people first came in touch with the Europeans back in 1000 AD. The prolonged contact was developed at 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. However, European infectious diseases like smallpox and influenza brought disasters, killing thousands of aboriginals.
Besides trading, the First Nations also played their role in the Colonial conflicts. They joined the French side during the colonial wars and played an important role for their European counterparts. They fought bravely side by side with the French against the British and their native allies.
Elders are considered to be the gatekeepers of First Nations history, culture and wisdom. They play a massive role in the learning process of the aboriginals. In the First Nations society, elders are considered to be highly respected teachers and role models. However, their role is not restricted to just preserving the ancient aboriginal customs and history. They also influenced various cultural and social revolutions and were involved in politics as well to guide their people to the right direction with their wisdom. General people still look out for their guidance. The Government of Canada and Dept of Indian Affairs work closely with the First Nations elders to ensure a harmonious coexistence of people from all races.
Government of Canada and the First Nations
Government of Canada maintains very close relationship with the First Nations and has taken many initiatives over the years to ensure that the First Nations are not deprived from their rights and are being able to preserve their cultures for the future generation. Legal framework has been established to protect the rights of the First Nations and both Government and non-Government institutions are helping the First Nations communities to ensure good governance. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) plays an important role to serve the purpose. AANDC deals with the Indian affairs by helping them to get involved in the major decision making process, to make the best use of the economic opportunities to progress, to train the new generation with latest programs and facilities, preparing them for the challenges of the 21st century.
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 council does have chiefs who took the position based on their hereditary rights. A band council carries out certain administrative tasks within their respective bands. They are considered to be the vital organization within the legal framework that negotiates with the Government about existing treaties and discusses the prospects of future agreements that will protect the interests of all sides.
Over the last several centuries, numerous treaties were signed between the aboriginals and the British Crown. Later on the Government of Canada also signed new treaties involving Indian affairs and recognized some of the older ones to ensure peaceful coexistence of the aboriginals and non-aboriginals in Canada. Some of the most important treaties were signed involving the purchase of lands. The treaty of 1763 allowed the British colonial power to earn the right to be the only party that could 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 interests over the lands in these locations in exchange of benefits like rights to hunt and fish, annual payments etc.
Crown entered into several treaties with the First Nations in between 1871 and 1921 which allowed the Government of Canada to pursue resource development and agricultural projects in the Canadian North and West. Although these treaties were signed long ago, the modern Canadian authority with the help of the dept of Indian Affairs still recognizes their significance and honors them. 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 provincial governance also emphasizes on the importance of these agreements and honors them when it comes to dealing with Indian affairs in their respective provinces.
We can say that the First Nations are an important part of Canada and they preserve the ancient customs that used to dominate this North American region for thousands of years. Although the time has changed, but with the help of the Government of Canada and other parties, the aboriginals and non-aboriginals are living peacefully side by side and working their way towards prosperity.