2018 Newsmakers of the Year show leadership, poise
- EFN Staff | December 10, 2018
Known for their outstanding leadership roles, advocacy and accomplishments; Michael Linklater and Jade Tootoosis were named this year’s newsmakers of the year! Linklater has many accomplishments under his belt with award recognitions throughout 2018. Tootoosis was the main face that advocated for change in the Canadian criminal justice system following the Gerald Stanley not guilty verdict back in February of this year. She spoke from the heart with poise and class to media and politicians while the nations watched the need for changes in the justice system for Indigenous peoples. Here are your two newsmakers of the year.
Linklater was on the cover of our newspaper over 18 years ago for his recognition with the Sasktel Outstanding Achievement Youth award. It was a recognition that he was not expecting to win.
“It was an award that encompassed everything sports and culture,” said Linklater. “I was absolutely blown away. That was an exciting time for me. I was very humbled and shocked to win that award. And to be on the [Eagle Feather News] cover, it was a great time. I actually still have a copy of that newspaper. My late father kept a lot of my newspaper clippings.”
His late father was a well-known and respected elder, Walter Linklater, who passed away this past summer. He credits his late father and his mother, Mariea for the moral and spiritual strength that he carries with him.
“The knew that having culture as a foundation and understanding my spirituality was something they wanted to give me,” he said. “They knew that would give me and their grandchildren strength to be successful in life. That’s where a lot of my cultural identity was founded on was from them.”
This year, Linklater won the prestigious Indspire Award in the sports category and the Tom Longboat award earning the title of male athlete of the year. Linklater was the team captain representing Canada in the 3-on-3 basketball World Cup where he was also voted as last year’s Most Spectacular Player (MSP) of the season for the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
“Anytime you get recognized by winning an award, it’s always humbling and exciting at the same time,” said the basketball enthusiast. “It’s very encouraging to continue doing what you’re doing. For me, I’m always grateful that I get an opportunity to be nominated, let alone to win an award.”
Linklater continues to carry the words from his late father to keep an open mind, respect one another, do your best to get along, and live a good life. With his outstanding achievements, Linklater knows his late father, his mother and his family are proud of everything he has accomplished and will continue to achieve down the road.
“It’s something that I’m not working towards to always be in the news, it’s more so continuing doing what I’m passionate about and continue to make change,” said Linklater, who encourages others to follow his journey on his Instagram social media page.
Tootoosis is from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation and is also a member of Rocky Boy in Montana. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Native Studies from the University of Alberta, where she currently works to promote and inspire individuals to pursue an education in Native Studies.
Tootoosis not only advocates for others to pursue an education but she also has a strong voice that echoed throughout North America to create change to honour the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Following the Stanley verdict that sent shockwaves throughout the nation, Tootoosis and her family met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other government representatives to discuss the systemic racism in the Canadian justice system where plans for a new legislative framework for Indigenous rights was discussed. Tootoosis and her family did not stop there. Their voices took them as far as the international table at the United Nations (U.N) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. Tootoosis and her family advocated for change in the Canadian criminal justice system.
Despite speaking through tears and carrying a heavy heart, Tootoosis continued to advocate on behalf of her family, all Indigenous peoples and to honour her late brother, Colten Boushie.
“I felt a deep responsibility that if I can say something, I should say something. There are more positive things that come from that than negative things than not saying anything,” she said.
Although it was a difficult time for her and her family, Tootoosis addressed the media and politicians with the country watching her and her family on the need for change in the justice system. She credits the strength she gained from her husband and her aunty, Debbie Baptiste, who is Boushie’s mother.
“She’s one of the strongest people I know. She would find the strength to get up and go into those courtrooms, to speak and be present heavy in her grief,” she said.
Tootoosis said through her and her family’s advocacy, she remains hopeful for change.
“You got to have some form of hope to be able to continue to challenge these systems, to challenge long doings and things transpiring and taking place, she said. “If we have no hope, there’s no drive, no passion, no heart in what you’re doing and it won’t be successful. My hope that what we do today will have a positive impact for future generations.”
Tootoosis and Linklater have demonstrated through their hard work, advocacy and commitment on why they are our 2018 Eagle Feather News Newsmakers of the Year.