SaskTel Indigenous Youth Awards of Excellence Celebrate Achievements

SaskTel Indigenous Youth Awards of Excellence Celebrate Achievements

June 29, 2023

Left to Right: Hailey Thunderchild, Meghan Morin, Gray Scramstad, Haylee Gardiner, Lanea Lafontaine, Dayne Stevenson, Liara Tootoosis, Heather Diamond Strongarm.

For the past 25 years, the SaskTel Indigenous Youth Awards of Excellence (SIYAE) have celebrated outstanding achievements of young First Nations, Metis, or Inuit people from across Saskatchewan.

Held in-person for the first time since 2019, this year's SIYAE awards recognized 10 exceptional students between the ages of 14-18 during a special ceremony at the Turvey Centre in Regina on June 16, 2023. SaskTel once again served as Title Sponsor, a role proudly held since the awards were established in 1997 by the Wicihitowin Foundation.

"These awards are designed to promote and empower our young leaders of tomorrow, that have worked so diligently to lead a healthy lifestyle, to advocate for others, volunteer their time, be leaders in their community, and to be great role models for those little kids that are looking up to them," said Fawn Redwood, Human Resources – SaskTel Indigenous Engagement.

The Wicihitowin Foundation was created to honour Indigenous Veterans by nurturing Indigenous youth, preparing them to rise to the challenge of responsibility and leadership, and preparing them to excel as tomorrow's leaders – strong, brave and true.

Two winners were recognized in each of the following five categories:

  • Sports and Recreation – Meghan Morin and Hailey Thunderchild
  • Arts Science – Ronan Inkster and Gray Scramstad
  • Culture Community – Ashley Asapace and Liara Tootoosis
  • Leadership – Heather Diamond Strongarm and Dayne Stevenson
  • Outstanding Academic Achievement – Haylee Gardiner and Lanea Lafontaine

While awards are rarely the goal for nominees, the event continues to be a way to empower Indigenous youth to stand up, utilize their skills, and be a powerful force for change in their community.

"As these young people move forward with their lives, I have no doubt that they will continue to carry themselves as excellent ambassadors for their communities and culture as others have before them," said Doug Burnett, SaskTel President and CEO.

Each winner received a beaded lanyard; a blanket - acknowledging relationship, honour, respect and recognition of an individual achievement; metal feather – acknowledging high honour of wisdom and respect; a cash honourium; and a certificate of achievement in the award category.

The event also included a Grand Entry, where Veterans and honoured guests carried in the Treaty Four and Metis flags. Award winners were also included in this portion of the ceremony.

The Grand Entry was followed by a prayer by invited Elder Margaret Rockthunder, and Doug Burnett presented the Welcoming Remarks.

Event performances included the Lone Creek Pow Wow Dance Troupe accompanied by the Lone Creek Singers on the big drum, the Metis Stars Youth Square Dance Group, and 2009 SIYAE award winner Tristen Durocher who performed on the fiddle.

"These awards put a deserving spotlight on the youth we recognize here, and it's wonderful to see the winners continue to inspire the next generation of Saskatchewan's Indigenous leaders and change makers," said Fawn. "We can't wait to see what they do next."

For more information please visit SaskTel Indigenous Youth Awards of Excellence.

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