Indigenize the Senate: Inuk youth speaks in Ottawa

Indigenous youth leaders from across the country spoke in Ottawa on Wednesday for Indigenize the Senate day. One of the youth was Andrea Andersen, a Nunatsiavut Inuk living in Iqaluit.

Youth forum will help shape study on developing new relationship between Canada and Indigenous people

Nine young Indigenous leaders on Parliament Hill for Youth Indigenize the Senate Day. (Senate of Canada)

A young Inuk woman addressed federal senators Wednesday, asking for greater Indigenous representation in government as part of Youth Indigenize the Senate Day in Ottawa. 

Nine young Indigenous leaders were invited to the forum by the Senate's Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. The committee is looking for young voices to help shape a study on how to improve relationships between Canada and Indigenous people.

Andrea Andersen was one of nine young Indigenous leaders in Ottawa for Youth Indigenize the Senate Day. (Submitted by Andrea Andersen)

"It's opportunities like this that is starting to create better dialogue and what needs to happen, but it's only the start. There is so much work that needs to be done," said Andrea Andersen, a Nunatsiavut Inuk living in Iqaluit.

"We only have eight minutes to address many concerns. There are so many topics we could discuss."

Andersen spoke on three issues. She wants to see Indigenous organizations like urban friendship centres get more recognition, resource companies held more accountable for the lands they occupy, and more appointments of Indigenous people to positions and portfolios addressing Indigenous issues.

New voices

The Senate committee's co-chair is Nunavut's Senator Dennis Patterson. He said hearing from new voices is important.

"This study is going to be a very important piece that can influence many different situations, policies and procedures in Canada as a whole, not just in Indigenous communities," Patterson said.

"To give us advice on how we can improve relations between Indigenous people and the federal government, gives us the youth perspective."

About 110 youth were nominated for the forum. Nine were selected for the trip.

  • Andrea Andersen, 25, Makkovik, Nunatsiavut (resides in Iqaluit, Nunavut)
  • Jacquelyn Cardinal, 26, Treaty 8 Territory, Alta. (resides in Edmonton, Alta.)
  • Perry Kootenhayoo, 30, Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation, Alta. (resides in Edmonton, Alta.)
  • Modeste McKenzie, 22, La Ronge, Sask. (resides in Northern Village of Air Ronge, Sask.)
  • Tiffany Monkman, 30, Winnipeg, Man.
  • Jennifer O'Bomsawin, 22, Odanak, Que.
  • Stephen Puskas, 34, Yellowknife, N.W.T. (resides in Montreal, Que.)
  • Holly Jane Sock, 26, Elsipogtog First Nation, N.B. (resides in Tobique First Nation)
  • Chris Tait, 25, Gitxsan Nation, B.C. (resides in Vancouver, B.C.)