Cree woman's work with youth earns her Alberta 30-under-30 nomination

Saige Arcand’s grandmother, Adele Arcand, has helped First Nations across Canada heal from intergenerational trauma since 1990. Saige Arcand wanted to do the same, but using her own gifts.

Saige Arcand from Alexander First Nation runs literacy camps and makeup camps for Indigenous youth

Saige Arcand speaking at one of her many workshops. (Saige Arcand/Supplied)

Saige Arcand's grandmother, Adele Arcand, has helped First Nations across Canada heal from intergenerational trauma since 1990. Saige Arcand wanted to do the same, but using her own gifts.

She started using her skills as a makeup artist to connect with Indigenous youth.

"It's just a way that I use to connect to these young women," Arcand, 28, told CBC's Radio Active Thursday.

The workshops have since been geared partially toward makeup and fashion but also to other activities, with a particular focus on motivating youth to believe in themselves.

Arcand has spent nine years as a freelance makeup artist. (Saige Arcand/Supplied)

Arcand also works with her grandmother and her business Bearwoman and Associates. "The chances that I got to go along with her is where I learned some of my skills and my thirst to actually help others, but using my own gifts," she said.

"She's my greatest teacher."

The Cree woman from Alexander First Nation northwest of Edmonton also works with Frontier College and organizes literacy camps for Indigenous youth in Alberta.

Arcand's work earned her an Alberta Top 30 Under 30 nomination from the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation, which she was not expecting.

"It was really nice to know that the work that I do [was recognized], even though you don't look for recognition," she said.

It's that recognition that motivates her to continue the workshops she's doing.  

Arcand, far left, with participants in one of her workshops for Indigenous youth. (Saige Arcand/Supplied)

Arcand started working closely with her grandmother when she was young. Now with a seven-year-old daughter, Arcand is hoping to continue the tradition of helping Indigenous people in her own way.

She is already seeing signs of it from her daughter. "She totally gets involved," Arcand said.

"It's not just about the outer beauty, it's also about the inner — how I'm able to help these ladies feel good on the inside and just remind them that they are beautiful inside and out," Arcand said.

"You really see their spirits lifted after."