Since 2003, Suncor has brought over 275 Aboriginal students to the Indspire awards as part of a multi-day experience. The youth participants who join us are selected by their communities because they are considered future leaders. This year’s Indspired Youth Experience, which took place March 21-24 in Winnipeg, included visits to the Canadian Human Rights Museum and Red River College, along with the Soaring: Indigenous Youth Empowerment Gathering where participants explored post-secondary and career options.
“I was so inspired by the youth participants – their energy, ideas and the dreams they have not only for themselves, but for their communities,” reflects Howard McIntyre, VP supply chain and field logistics and a participant on the trip. “They are role models for all of us and I am proud to be part of something that helps them achieve their dreams.”
One of the highlights each year is the luncheon, where the youth, and Suncor employees, have a unique opportunity to meet and talk with award recipients before the awards gala on Friday evening. Theland Kicknosway, who at fourteen years old was one of the youngest ever Indspire award recipients, shared his story as a singer, dancer and educator of Aboriginal culture and history, and how he has worked to elevate Aboriginal issues.
“Everything that I do is to give back to all Peoples of our Nations, I want to help the youth learn more from the Elders and pass it along to the future generations so they can walk and create the new path that all of us have begun,” says Theland.
The Indspired Youth Experience is one way Suncor works to provide Aboriginal youth with leadership and learning opportunities that are grounded in culture and reconciliation, a focus area for Suncor’s social goal.
“I came away with many learnings, including a much greater awareness of the challenges, but also the huge possibility and opportunity ahead - for youth, communities, and all of us as Canadians,” recalls Sheila Innes, GM of stakeholder and Aboriginal relations. “The future looks bright.”