By Amanda Ottolino
Find your voice. Share your story. Unite. Be strong. Be resilient. Be powerful.
Young women from all seven of the Board’s secondary schools, as well as Wilma’s Place, St. Martin’s Manor, St. Charles, and Regina’s Place proclaimed these messages while attending the YWCA’s Totally Awesome Young Women’s Breakfast on Wednesday, April 11. The breakfast was an opportunity to bring youth together in order share in the themes of empowerment and inspiration, and specifically to focus on finding your voice to make a change in the world. Learn power, connect goals, inspiration, leadership
The day began with a blessing from Elder Doris Lanigan, who currently mentors several youth leaders in Cathedral’s NYAWEH program. A prayer recognizing and honouring the four directions had the entire room turn to each direction and offer thanks for the opportunity to come together in such a meaningful way.
Cathedral’s female drum group – Leanne Rego, Emily Fox, Alyson Malda, Katrina O’Connor, Sam Fernandes, Nisa Ferreira, Crystal Lamarr – wowed the crowd and honoured the day with a traditional Strong Woman song. Bishop Tonnos Student Success Teacher Alvisia Maga said “The girls were so strong and powerful…goosebump worthy!”
Attendees had the pleasure and privilege of listening to Jamie Medicine Crane share the story of her life. Jamie, whose traditional name is Ahksistowaki, a Blackfoot word meaning Brave Woman, comes from Kainai & Piikani First Nations in southern Alberta. Jamie shared her journey which included her path to education, her role as the first Indigenous woman to complete in Miss Universe, and her career as artist, designer, and role model to several young girls who attend Niitsitapi Dreams, a school that Jamie founded to help build girls’ self-esteem and leadership skills. Jamie’s life was not without pain, however, as several of her closest family members have been victims of violence, making them a significant part of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement here in Canada.
Jamie’s message was one that focussed on overcoming obstacles finding your voice to affect change and support others. With her medicine wheel teachings, students were invited to share their pledges of action with one another to close out the day.