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The Spirit Of The White Buffalo: Sasktel Aboriginal Youth Awards Of Excellence

Eldon Henderson

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 2002      v31 n01 p10  
The 4th Annual SaskTel Aboriginal Youth Awards of Excellence were held on October 26, 2001 at the Centennial Auditorium. SaskTel and Wicihitowin Foundation were key partners in hosting and honoring this year's recipients in 9 categories: Outstanding Achievement, Leadership, Community Service, Education, Sports, Fine Arts, Performing Arts, Culture and Recreation. The evening's program began with a reception sponsored by the Department of Indian Northern Affairs of Canada (INAC). The dinner banquet commenced around 6:00 p.m. followed by the Grand Entry and the Opening Prayer by Elder Mary Lee from First Nation. Supper was soon served to the invited honorary dignitaries, guests and parents.

An opening address by the 2000 Outstanding Achievement recipient Cara Faye Merasty of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, shared an inspirational message to this year's 42 nominees. She is currently in her 2nd year of studies at the University of Saskatchewan and plans to enroll in the College of Law in the near future.

The awards ceremony began at 8:00 p.m. with the Masters of Ceremony Rick Laliberte, Member of Parliament, Churchill River and Youth Co-Hosts Krystle Pedersonand Cory Generaux. Krystle Pederson is a previous winner of the 1999 Arts and Entertainment Award. Her emerging music career is only the beginning of potential rewards still yet to come. Krystle has been seen on TeleMiracle, Saskatoon Music Festival and the Gateway Summer Players. Cory Generaux is another ambitious and talented composer/lyric writer and is involved in the drama troupe Kamamakus, based in Prince Albert.

Selection for the overall finalists was a difficult task for the awards committee, but at the same time, the nominees received around of applause by the audience. The 2001 SaskTel Aboriginal Youth Award of Excellence winners were:

Outstanding Achievement Award: Earl Paul
Leadership: Monica Gardypie
Education: Desarae Eashappie
Community Service: Willow Cree Education Complex SADD Chapter
Culture: Alayna Tootoosis
Sports: Patrick Mitsuing
Recreation: Mikela Settee-Usiskan
Fine Arts: Cora Fehr
Performing arts: Jarrod Jobb

The "Spirit of the White Buffalo" legend was the key message behind the award (carvings) given to this year's youth finalists. There was a historical event in August 1994, which a white female buffalo calf was born in Wisconsin, United States. This important emergence of the sacred buffalo symbolized the peace and balance of First Nation people's traditions, culture and ceremonies to be renewed and practiced again.

Arthur Jack from the Ahtahakakoop First Nation provided white buffalo sculptures to the SaskTel Youth Award winners. His work includes sculpting wood, soapstone and moose horn, small totem poles and wild life exhibits. Arthur Jack's accomplishments are considered traditional artifacts portraying Indigenous culture and history.

The keynote speaker was Alwyn Morris, a Mohawk from the Kahnawake community. In 1984, he captured a gold and bronze medal at the Los Angeles XXIII Olympic Games. His dedication to Aboriginal sport only grew bigger. Today, Alwyn is the coordinator of the Mohawk/Canada Roundtable and Mohawk Inter-Governmental Relations Process.

His chairmanship of the Aboriginal Sport Circle, the Kahnawake Athletic Commission and the Kahnawake Alcohol Beverages Control Board is keeping him occupied. He still makes time to travel extensively across North America volunteering and speaking at various Aboriginal youth conferences, gatherings and workshops.

During his speech he emphasized that, "courage, dedication, commitment and sacrifice were the four main elements for our Aboriginal youth to reach their goals as I did, in the 84' Olympics." Alann Morris believes, "today's youth have the opportunities and determination to accomplish their dreams.

Vance McNabb and Patrick Mitsuing
Vance McNabb, SIGA &
Patrick Mitsuing
Wayne Salloum and Alayna Tootoosis
Wayne Salloum, SIGA &
Alayna Tootoosis
Brenda Ahenakew and Desarae Eashappie
Brenda Ahenakew, STC &
Desarae Eashappie

The Spirit Of The White Buffalo: Sasktel Aboriginal Youth Awards Of Excellence

Eldon Henderson

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 2002      v31 n01 p11  
Tonight, was a great event and watching Saskatchewan Aboriginal youth celebrating their successes together. It is testament of what is stored inside their future leadership qualities and our society is changing, but it will be these youth who will rise above and lead us."

The SaskTel Awards Committee consisted of Angie Merasty, Brenda Ahenakew, Colleen Cameron, Diane Stephen, Joan Beatty, Jeanette Radu, Lisa Grewar, Rachel Littlecrow, Shirley Courchene-Lafond, Tim Isana, Trish Watier, Wanda Brown and Christine Joseph.

Tasha Hubbard was the awards producer, the volunteering came from the Saskatoon Women's Aboriginal Network (SWAN), and the banquet decorations were completed by the students/staff of Joe Duquette High School. Special acknowledgements go to Spencer Greyeyes, Dolores Greyeyes, Lyle Daniels and Patricia Kovacs.

Numerous other supporters and sponsors contributed to the success and celebration of the 4th Annual SaskTel Aboriginal Youth Awards of Excellence. Best of luck to all the nominees and finalists in all their goals!

Gary Peters, SaskSport and Monica Gardypie
Gary Peters, SaskSport and Monica Gardypie
Shirley Courchene-Lafond SAEBO and Mikela Settee-Usirkan
Shirley Courchene-Lafond SAEBO and Mikela Settee-Usirkan
Community Service: Willow Cree Education Complex SADD Chapter
Community Service: Willow Cree Education Complex SADD Chapter