Over the course of the Second Annual Career Fair, held July 8-10 in Mistissini, participants heard speeches from a number of role models on what you can do or achieve if they set their minds to it. Each one of them related a story that inspired, taught or touched us in some way.
Some speakers discussed how their families supported their dreams. They spoke of the people who inspired them to achieve greater things in their lives. On the first day we heard from Rita R. Cox, who told us of her dreams to fly, and how during school she became pregnant and wasn’t sure if she could continue. But after giving birth she was back in a cockpit the next month.
Phoebe Blacksmith dreamed of becoming a chef and owning her own Aboriginal bistro, a dream that has come true with Sweetgrass, her award-winning restaurant in Ottawa.
We can achieve success outside of our communities as well. Stan Wesley talked about separating good role models from those who teach us what we do not want to be. He did a spectacular job of emceeing the Career Fair throughout the three-day event July 8-10. Kahnawake’s Waneek Horn-Miller didn’t settle for just doing okay, she said. Horn-Miller emphasized the need to set our sights on greatness. She targeted a water polo gold medal in the Olympics, and while she did not win one she achieved her real goal of competing in the Olympics.
Internationally renowned musician and composer John Kim Bell also said we need to think bigger. Every time in his life when someone asked him about what he
would like to do, they would encourage him to think bigger. When he followed this advice, he was able to achieve bigger goals such as creating the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards.
Shane Baker, who was blinded from a head injury, told us to never give up on ourselves, to keep trying every day no matter the obstacles or tragedy that comes your way. You have to believe you can overcome anything.
We learned that it doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are you can achieve anything you set your mind to. We need an attitude that we will succeed, and it can take us a long way. We learnt that there is no set recipe for success or for achieving your dream.
Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band in British Columbia brought the crowd to its feet with his presentation about the need to create wealth to give people jobs and support programs in Native communities. He has raised the standard of living in his community through economic development. He told the leaders to look at the 15-year-olds around them, and ask themselves what job will be waiting for them in five years. Every Native person, especially the youth, needs the dignity of a job.
Finally, from Cree Grand Chief Matthew Mukash we learned that there are a number of new opportunities for Cree youth and people as our communities and governments are expanding. There are a number of new economic activities happening within our region that we are participating in so we can have a sustainable economy with employment for generations to come.