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Celebrating Indigenous Leadership

June is National Indigenous History Month and June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day.

We want to take this moment to acknowledge the success of several prominent Indigenous women whose relentless efforts have brought worldwide attention to issues affecting Indigenous people and their communities.

Cindy Blackstock of the Gitxsan First Nation. Her efforts led to the creation of the Final Settlement Agreement that binds the government into providing equitable welfare funding to First Nations children on reserves.

Autumn Peltier of the Wiikwemkoong First Nation. The 17-year-old garnered worldwide attention for her fight on providing Indigenous communities in Canada access to clean water. She became a chief water commissioner, and recently received an honorary doctorate degree from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC.

Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation. She was a pivotal figure in leading the discussion of the legacy of residential schools. This followed the discovery of an unmarked mass grave of 215 children at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School near Kamloops, BC last year. Soon after, many other First Nations began using the same ground penetrating radar technology to uncover more mass graves at the sites of over 130 residential schools in Canada.

“Indigenous people have been diligent in bringing awareness to important issues and it’s causing positive change in our country," says Tim Laronde, Chandos' national director, Indigenous strategies, and a member of the Nipissing First Nation. 

Another positive change that we were fortunate enough to be part of is the recent unveileing of the National Indigenous Economic Startegy (NIES) in Ottawa, ON. A coalition of more than 25 National Indigenous Organizations unveiled NIES which acts as a "blueprint for inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian economy."

Supported by 107 Calls to Economic Prosperity, NIES offers guidance for governments, industries, and institutions in reconciling, collaborating, and rebuilding Indigenous communities.

“This initiative is part of the solution,” Laronde adds. “It helps create equity which is what we've always been striving for.”

The unveiling of NIES was also attended by the Minster of Indigenous Services Canada, and supported by several Indigenous leaders.

Learn more about the initiative and the steps your organization can take. 

**The header image for this post was created by Keegan Starlight, an Indigenous artist from the TsuuT’ina Nation. The image, titled 'Sharing the Knowledge,' shows how reclaiming Indigenous traditions and passing them along to the children brings us to our future and renews health back to the people. The piece also shows how important culture is to each tribe both as individuals and as a collective group through living, sharing, and respecting one another.

Starlight has created artwork for many organizations including a mural for Petro Canada, an installation for the Calgary Public Library, and a painting for our Calary office.  

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