Five students from River East Transcona have been chosen to receive Manitoba Indigenous Youth Achievement Awards for 2022. The award ceremonies were scheduled to take place virtually on February 2 and March 8.
On February 2, awards were presented to Chloe Telenko, a Grade 11 student from Murdoch MacKay Collegiate, and Kaydon Laurin, a graduate of Murdoch MacKay. Chloe received hers in the category of "Cultural Female," and Kaydon received his in the category of "Community Volunteer Jr."
"I feel honoured to have been recognized as the recipient of the MIYAA Cultural Female Award," says Chloe. "I believe it's important to pass down beliefs and teachings of my elders and ancestors while passing down my Métis heritage with others."
Kaydon says, "As an Inuk, I'm honoured and privileged to have been selected as a recipient in the Community Volunteer Jr. category. The recognition and appreciation through this award adds another special element to what community involvement means to me. I hope this serves as one of many examples that Indigenous youth are making considerable efforts to better their respective communities. I wouldn't have been able to participate if not for my family who continuously supports and challenges me on a personal level to improve my character."
On March 8, awards will be presented to Ashton McIvor, a Grade 11 student from Murdoch MacKay Collegiate, Leena Tetrault, a Grade 12 student from Collège Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau, and Michael McCall Uptegrove, a Grade 12 student from Collège Miles Macdonell Collegiate.
"This award to me is honestly bittersweet," says Ashton. "While I'm proud and honoured to have done the work to be recognized, it's unfortunate that even today graduation rates for Indigenous students are disproportionate to non-Indigenous youth, and many Indigenous youth struggle in one way or another to pursue their dreams. So, yes, while the MIYAA award is phenomenal and I'm extremely honoured, the issue of inequality should be the most important takeaway here. I want to see higher graduation rates, more opportunities, and less systemic oppression for Indigenous people both on and off reserve."
Leena says, "Throughout my entire learning career, I've strived for excellence and have always put my all into everything I do. I hope to inspire young Indigenous girls to follow their dreams and never give up. A message to Indigenous youth I'd like to give would be 'Never give up, even when everything seems to be going wrong, don't give up. Because you're here for a reason, and you matter. You owe it to yourself to put your all into what you do and to succeed.'"
Congratulations to these five students for their commendations! We wish them well with all their future endeavours.