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Thunder Bay teen named to Prime Minister's Youth Council

A Thunder Bay teen selected to be part of the Prime Minister's Youth Council, says the experience so far has been a "whirlwind."

Riley Yesno, 17, says she plans to bring a northern and Indigenous perspective to the council

Riley Yesno, a high school student in Thunder Bay who is originally from Eabametoong First Nation, said she plans to make the most of her role on the Prime Minister's Youth Council. (Facebook / Submitted)

A Thunder Bay teen selected to be part of the Prime Minister's Youth Council, says the experience so far has been a "whirlwind."

Riley Yesno, 17, was announced as one of 11 new members of the council this week. 

The St. Patrick High School student, who is from Eabametoong First Nation, was selected from a pool of over 16,000 applicants from across the country. 

"It's been really amazing," she said. 

"The past few days have been — it sounds really cliché — but honestly, nothing short of life-changing."

Yesno was flown to Calgary this week for her first youth council meeting, which included a visit to a town hall forum, and meetings with cabinet ministers. 

"We got to go to a cafe and just informally chat with the Prime Minister," she said.  

"I got to sit at a table with the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and ... those are just things that people don't get to do in their life. So it was really crazy."

Indigenous equity top of mind

As the only member of the council from northwestern Ontario, and a member of a remote First Nation, Yesno said she hopes to draw on her personal experience to offer a unique perspective. 

"I lived in Eabametoong First Nation when I was younger and when I moved to Thunder Bay we [hosted] boarding students and my mom worked at DFC [Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations High School] and I went to Aboriginal Head Start," she said. 

"So indigenous equity has always been an important issue for me," she said, and "having that first hand experience, I think is something unique that a lot of people can't bring ... It's just really good to have that first hand experience." 

Yesno said she plans to make time to talk with young people both in Thunder Bay, and Eabametoong, to get their input on how she can best represent them on the Prime Minister's Youth Council. 

The 11 new additions to the council brings the total number of members to 26. The council meets with cabinet ministers several times a year. 

Hear the CBC interview with Riley Yesno on Superior Morning at 8:15 a.m. on Friday.