Meet the Youth
Alyssa Hoey, Bearskin Lake First Nation
Alyssa Hoey is a 21-year-old member of Bearskin Lake First Nation, which is located approximately 450 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Alyssa was born and raised in Sioux Lookout and is currently pursuing a degree in Kinesiology at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
Through Alyssa’s experience as an annual summer student at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre she has discovered her passion for helping others achieve wellness, and she hopes to eventually become a doctor or a physiotherapist. Alyssa’s lived experience has provided her with an understanding of the supports that are currently lacking, and she feels strongly about advocating on behalf of any child who needs it.
In Australia, Alyssa would like to share concerns regarding the escalating frequency of suicides in First Nations communities in her region. Alyssa believes that attending the suicide prevention conferences in Australia will allow her to take home other perspectives and understandings about how other communities around the world are working to address youth suicide.
Alyssa is particularly interested in learning prevention methods that could be implemented in schools. When Alyssa returns home, she would like to share the knowledge gathered in her own community.
Samuel Kloetstra, Mattagami First Nation
Samuel Kloetstra is a 21-year-old member of Mattagami First Nation. Mattagami First Nation is a drive-in community approximately 100 kilometres away from Timmins, Ontario. Samuel is currently studying Public Administration and Governance at Ryerson University in Toronto in partnership with the First Nations Technical Institute.
Samuel is a vocal advocate and has served as an advisor to two members of the Government of Ontario: the Minister of Education and former Premier Kathleen Wynne. In this capacity, Samuel provided input to reduce inequities in education, justice, health and child welfare for First Nations peoples. Samuel strives to bring Indigenous issues to the center of every discussion, including initiatives with Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle Youth Council. He also works closely with the youth of his community. In his home community, Samuel is one of the founding members of the Mattagami Youth Circle.
At the conferences in Australia, Samuel hopes to exchange more than just experiences with others. He hopes to share the vast network of land-based knowledge and history among Indigenous communities around the world. Samuel sees these conferences as the perfect opportunity to learn the practices, pedagogies, and visions of others for a healthy future.
At the end of the trip, he will reflect on his time and experience at Australia, and then share with young people in his community through the Mattagami Youth Circle. Samuel also hopes to share his experiences in Australia with Indigenous youth in the City of Timmins. He would like to use this opportunity to inspire conversation among young people to question themselves about what they envision for their own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
Albany Sutherland, Marten Falls First Nation
Albany Sutherland is a 16-year-old Anishinaabe member of Marten Falls First Nation. Marten Falls is a fly-in community approximately 170 km (110 miles) northeast of Nakina, Ontario.
Albany is currently in Grade 12 at Hammarskjold High School in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She believes in community involvement. She actively participates in many extracurricular activities in her school such as being co-president of her school club called the Hammarskjold Ambassadors, a member of a cross-country club, and a member of the Jazz Band. She frequently volunteers at the George Jeffrey Children Centre and takes part in the Thunder Bay Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Albany served as a Page in the Ontario Legislature in 2014. She was also an Indigenous Cultural Youth Ambassador with the City of Thunder Bay. Albany has participated in other trips in other countries such as China and Switzerland.
In Australia, Albany hopes to share her First Nations culture with other Indigenous youth from around the world. She hopes to learn how to safely encourage more dialogue on suicide prevention. She plans to organize a mental wellness week at her school focusing on mental health when she returns to Thunder Bay. Albany also hopes to involve the Marten Falls community by initiating a small program called “Messages of Hope” for elementary students who will attend high school in bigger cities.
Erickson Owen, Poplar Hill First Nation
Erickson Owen is a 20-year-old member of Poplar Hill First Nation, a community accessible only by air and winter road, approximately 120 km north of Red Lake, Ontario. Erickson is a graduate of Pelican Falls First Nations High School and finished his final semester with perfect marks of 100%. He won an award from the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada and received his award at a gala in Montreal.
Erickson is fluent in Ojibwe and English and is a strong advocate of youth reclaiming their language. He currently works full-time as a community telemedicine coordinator at his local clinic. Erickson places importance on learning about local history and practices, especially how people in his community adapted to conditions and developed necessary tools for hunting and harvesting, such as snow shoes and canoes.
Erickson is looking forward to exchanging knowledge of his culture, language, and his community with other Indigenous youth in Australia. After the conference, Erickson plans to document his trip and share everything he has learned on his local radio station and through social media.
Jasmine Panacheese, Mishkeegogamang First Nation
Jasmine Panacheese is a 21-year-old from Mishkeegogamang First Nation, which is located along Highway 599 in the Kenora District, approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Pickle Lake, Ontario. Jasmine is currently attending Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. She holds an Honours in Indigenous Studies and plans to pursue a Masters in Social Work.
Jasmine is a member of the Sturgeon Clan and comes from a line of strong Indigenous women. She is very involved with the community of Peterborough, and participates in the Native Association, the First People’s House of Learning, and other volunteer organizations.
As a youth delegate for the Australia conference she hopes to learn, understand, and participate in her healing. Jasmine hopes to share the meaning of “Anishnaabe,” the stories of the people, the sacred creation stories, and her own stories. She is proud to share her experiences with others.
After the conference, she plans to share documented pictures and stories of how her trip went to Australia. She also plans on using this trip to reflect on what she could use within different communities to share the importance of these issues that surround First Nations communities.
Kyra Metatawabin, Fort Albany First Nation
Kyra Metatawabin is a 17- year old member of Fort Albany First Nation, a community only accessible by air or winter road. Kyra currently lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where she attends Hammarskjold High School. After she graduates from high school, Kyra plans to attend university and pursue a Political Science degree.
Kyra participated in a youth council in Fort Albany, sharing her views, ideas, and concerns in her community. Through her role with the youth council, she also assisted in organizing community events. Kyra is known for being committed, enthusiastic, hardworking, and devoted. In 2017, she successfully qualified for Aboriginal Team Ontario’s Under-16 basketball team for the North American Indigenous Games. She carries a positive outlook on life and is considered to be a role model for younger kids.
In Australia, Kyra hopes to meet Indigenous youth from around the world and form a support network. While participating at conferences in Australia, she hopes to learn ways to encourage youth to get help and to speak out. When she returns home, she also hopes to start a movement to bring awareness to mental health and plans to share her experiences on blogs within social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Paul Chapman, Sachigo Lake First Nation
Paul Chapman is a 17-year-old member of Sachigo Lake First Nation, a community that is only accessible by air and winter roads. It is approximately 425 kilometers (264 miles) north of the town of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Paul lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario during the academic school year where he is in his final year at Hammarskjold High School.
After graduation, Paul plans to pursue a degree in Kinesiology and Fitness Training. Paul makes it a priority to live an active, healthy lifestyle. He plays hockey in a Midget AA league and regularly trains at the gym. When Paul is at home in Sachigo during the Christmas and Summer break he enjoys volunteering at their local arena. He assists the workers in maintaining the building and organizing hockey tournaments for the men. Paul also works closely with the youth when he hosts skating drills and baseball games for those who have the desire to learn.
While attending the conferences in Australia, Paul would like to participate in an exchange of sports knowledge and cultural activities. Paul recognizes that sports are an important element of healthy living, and that many sports are rooted in First Nations culture and traditions. After this experience, Paul would like to put together a short report to share at his community’s annual event called “Mamowskawin”. In particular, he would be happy to teach youth in his community new games and activities from Australia.