CBC Manitoba asks this year's Indspire award winners: What does it mean to receive this award?
Four First Nations, Metis Manitobans honoured this year
This year, CBC Manitoba's Indspire Awards honours four Indigenous people from Manitoba for their contributions to business, social justice, health care and Métis culture.
The four recipients from Manitoba are:
- Dr. Catherine Cook, a physician.
- Nahanni Fontaine, NDP MLA (St. Johns) and House leader for the official opposition.
- Rosa Walker, business leader.
- Justin Langan, leader of several initiatives to heighten the political and community engagement of Métis youth.
Each year, the Inspire awards honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals who have contributed to their communities and the country in a profound way, and who serve as role models for others.
CBC's Holly Bernier caught up with the four honourees to find out what inspires them and what it means to be a role model in their communities.
WATCH | This year's Manitoba Indspire honourees on what inspires them:
Dr. Catherine Cook
One of the first Métis women in Canada to train as a physician, Dr. Catherine Cook has spent decades advocating for the health of Indigenous peoples.
She is the University of Manitoba's first vice-president (Indigenous), leading the development and implementation of a university-wide strategy that promotes reconciliation, and advances Indigenous engagement and achievement.
Over her career, she has mentored countless Indigenous medical students and received numerous awards for her work. She is originally from Matheson Island in northern Manitoba.
"It's the only award that our community bestows on us for work that we've done, on behalf of and with communities so it's a huge honour," she said.
An Ojibway from the Sagkeeng Anishinaabe First Nation, Fontaine is the first Indigenous woman to be House leader of any legislature or parliament in Canadian history.
She was elected to the Manitoba Legislature as NDP MLA for the St. Johns riding in Winnipeg in 2016. She is nationally recognized for her expertise on Indigenous women's issues and, in 2017, successfully brought the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the Girls Honouring and Awareness Day Act into law in Manitoba, proclaiming Oct. 4 as a day that honours MMIWG2S and their families.
She currently serves as the justice critic for Manitoba's official opposition party.
"It is one of the greatest honours to be recognized for the work that you do by your own peers, by your own communities, by your own families," she said. "It's about recognizing all Indigenous women who are doing this work from coast to coast to coast."
Walker is being honoured with an Indspire award for her 30-plus years as an Indigenous business leader.
She has held countless titles, including manager of workforce diversity at the Bank of Montreal, where she fought for the rights of Indigenous workers.
Walker launched the World Indigenous Business Forum (WIBF) in 2010 to promote Indigenous economic development, and later created the Empowering Indigenous Youth in Governance and Leadership (EIYGL), a non-profit organization designed to give young Indigenous people mentorship and training opportunities.
She currently serves as president and CEO of the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute (ILDI), which aims to build leadership capacity in Indigenous people. Walker is originally from Peguis First Nation.
"People are really proud, especially my family," she said. "They've been so supportive over the years so it means a lot to be able to share that with them, and share it with my community because you don't do this on your own."
Langan is passionate about fostering pride in the Métis community, especially among young people. He has led several initiatives to heighten political and community engagement among Métis youth and currently serves as editor-in-chief of The Cart, a newsletter for Métis youth.
As a documentary filmmaker he has produced and directed a short documentary about an Indigenous mother whose son battled addiction.
"I've looked up to Indspire a lot, so just to be recognized by them, I think, is not just important for me but for my community, coming from a rural community here in Manitoba," he said.
"I hope it inspires future Indigenous youth to go for their passions and go for their dreams."
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