Past participate encourages youth to apply to “Indigenize the Senate”
- EFN Staff | April 02, 2019
Young Indigenous leaders of picked to represent their province or territory to be part of Indigenized the Senate 2019. Now in its fourth year, Youth Indigenize the Senate connects Indigenous youth leaders with members of the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in a welcoming, open and stimulating setting.
Indigenized the Senate is a yearly opportunity for the Indigenous leaders to have their voices heard on Parliament Hill through an invitation to testify in front the Committee on Aboriginal peoples.
From successes, challenges, housing shortage collective and personal stories, their testimony help senators as they complete an important study on forging a new relationship between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Rae-Anne Harper from the Onion Lake First Nation is the president of the National Association of Friendship Centres Aboriginal Youth Council. Working in Friendship Centres, Harper has worked for her peers by coordinating youth programs and camps for at-risk urban Indigenous young people, provided workshops on heritage, culture teachings, human rights, Friendship Centre awareness, as well as advocated for Friendship Centre youth at various national conferences and events. Harper was nominated in last year’s Indigenized the Senate and represented Saskatchewan at Parliament Hill and at the table with the Senate.
“I was one out of 9 that was selected,” said Harper, who is studying Indigenous Studies at the University of Alberta. “It was very nerve-wracking; however, it was very inspiring to sit with a bunch of like-minded Indigenous youth who are all working towards change.”
Harper and other Indigenous leaders spent the day last June on Parliament Hill touring the building, visiting the House of Commons and they had one on one chats with the senators in the reading room. They all brought forward gathered concerns on issues affecting Indigenous people in their communities, provinces and nation-wide.
“I wanted to advocate for the urban Indigenous youth voices,” said Harper, who works as an advocate with the National Association of Friendship Centres. “There were discussions about the water shortage, educational barriers, youth and justice…in regards to the Colten Boushie . We talked about how youth are still experiencing racism and injustice when dealing with the justice system.”
The night Harper and the other youth leaders got to Ottawa, they were put together in a space and similar to a speed dating style, the participants had a few minutes to ask each other questions to get to know each other.
Through this experience, she has been inspired to continue working with young people and hopes to have a career within the movement. Rae-Anne hopes to assist in creating more sustainable programming for urban Indigenous youth.
“I encourage others to apply right away,” she said. “It’s a very rewarding experience and it’s very nerve-wracking however I did not regret anything.”
Successful applicants aged 18 to 35 are nominated based on the differences they are making in their communities. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, April 12. The nominated Indigenous leaders will be invited to Ottawa on June 6 to testify at a committee meeting, participate in cultural activities and meet one-on-one with senators during Aboriginal History Month celebrations.