Winnipeg woman helping to Indigenize the Senate at youth forum

Tiffany Monkman is one of 10 young Indigenous leaders from across the country helping to Indigenize the Senate as part of Canada 150 celebrations on Wednesday.

Tiffany Monkman is one of 10 young Indigenous leaders from across Canada sharing their stories in Ottawa

Tiffany Monkman with Senate Speaker George J. Furey in Ottawa at the Indigenize the Senate forum on Wednesday. (Tiffany Monkman)

A ​Métis woman from Winnipeg will be sharing her story in the Senate on Wednesday as a part of an event to mark Canada 150 celebrations and Aboriginal History Month.

Tiffany Monkman is one of 10 young Indigenous leaders from across the country acting as a role model at the Indigenize the Senate youth forum and young leaders' meeting.

Monkman said it was an emotional moment when she found out she had been selected for the forum from more than 100 nominees.

"I'm not gonna lie, I had some tears — happy tears, that is," she said.

Organized by the Senate's Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, 10 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from across Canada were invited to the Senate to tell their stories of community impact, and share their ideas during a special committee hearing.

Monkman will be speaking about her work with Indigenous students at the hearing. She hopes to make an impact on the senators by sharing stories of Indigenous success and overcoming obstacles.

"That is what I want to get across … to allow Indigenous people to have the platform they deserve to speak about their stories," said the 30-year-old.

Tiffany Monkman is one of 10 young Indigenous leaders helping to Indigenize the Senate. (Facebook)

Monkman works at the University of Manitoba as a student advisor and recruiter for Aboriginal Business Education Partners. Monkman graduated from the U of M in 2012 with an honours degree in commerce.

"Being a student advisor is already kind of taxing — just hearing people going through tough times, through studying and exams," she said. "Then you put on top what Indigenous people have gone through … trauma in their lives."

She said she looks inside herself and what she's overcome to help support her students when they're going through difficult times.

"I'm going to be there for them every step of the way," she said. "Everything I've learned from my culture, sport, personally — I bring that with me every day I speak to Indigenous youth."

'The beginning of a celebration for the next 150'

Monkman described arriving in the Senate as comforting because she was surrounded by Métis, Inuit and First Nations students and elders.

"I thought I'd never be a part of something so extraordinary like this," she said.

In addition to the youth leaders, 55 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 will be part of a youth forum at the Senate on Wednesday. They will talk about building a relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, which will be used as youth perspective in the committee's study.
More than 55 young people took part in a blanket exercise at Indigenize the Senate Day on Wednesday. (Senate of Canada/Twitter)

"It is pretty much exactly what my goal is in life … to help Indigenous youth to get as many opportunities as they can," said Monkman. "To see so many youth here made me so happy."

Monkman acknowledged that Canada 150 celebrations and events have raised conflicting feelings for many Indigenous people. She said she sees the growth made in the past 150 years.

"Just seeing non-Indigenous people wanting to figure out how they can help, hearing conversations, people telling their story on social media and people are reading it, I just find this as the beginning of a celebration for the next 150."
A ​Métis woman from Winnipeg will be sharing her story in the Senate on Wednesday as a part of an event to mark Canada 150 celebrations and Aboriginal History Month. Tiffany Monkman speaks with CBC's Janet Stewart. 3:18

About the Author

Jillian Taylor

CBC Reporter

Jillian Taylor has been with CBC Manitoba since 2012 and has been reporting for a decade. She was born and raised in Manitoba and is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation. In 2014, she was awarded the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's travel bursary, which took her to Australia to work with Indigenous journalists. Find her on Twitter: @JillianLTaylor