Fourteen receive recognition in the 17th Annual Aboriginal Achievement Awards

2010 recipients of The 17th Annual Aboriginal Achievement Awards. photo by Rosalie Favell

In addition to recognition of achievement, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation is the largest non-governmental source of education funding for Canadian First Nations people. 8,400 First Nations students have been awarded over $32 million dollars in bursaries and scholarships under the four categories of Post-Secondary Education, Fine Arts, Aboriginal Health Careers & Oil and Gas Trades and Technology.  On Friday March 26, 2010, the 17th Annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards were handed out. Each year there are fourteen recipients of this prestigious award given to those who meet the guidelines laid out by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (NAAF).

Reaching out to aboriginal youth to help guide students who have left secondary education is the Rivers to Success program. It helps students in furthering continuing educational goals with assessments of personal interests, strengths and talents.

Aboriginal educators and youth take part the Taking Pulse program: an industry in the Classroom series of modules, available to students of first nations schools, private schools and training centers. The current developed sessions, Radio Broadcasting, Television Broadcasting, Health Care, Environmental Health, Circle of Justice & Railway in the Classroom.

Their statistics are impressive: 2008-2009 handed out $4, 630,750 in scholarship and bursary money compared to the $1.9 million just five years ago in 2004-2005.

This years awards were presented in Regina Saskatchewan and the evening was presided over by Andrea Menard (Rabbit Fall) & Raoul Trujillo (Apocolypto). Since it's inception in 1993, NAAF's goal specifically recognizes and supports career excellence in First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples from across Canada.

With a deadline for nomination entries in September 09, the fourteen 2010 recipients were announced in November under the categories:

Life Achievement:  96 y.o. elder of the Kitigan nation, William Commanda for his life in building racial harmony & intercultural understanding.

Youth:  Kahnawake nation's, Skawenni:io Barnes for her work since the age of 13 collecting books for the library which now bears her name; is currently a Political Science student at Yale University.

Arts:  Cape Dorset's, Kanaginak Pootoogook an Inuit artist and founder of the West Baffin Eskimo co-operative.

Business & Commerce:  BC's Escetemc nation's, Ellen Melcolsky is founder of The Little Miss Chief salmon products which sells it's products internationally.

Culture, Heritage & Spirtuality:  Siksika nation's, Tom Crane Bear is a spiritual leader and international teacher of the cultural ways of the Blackfoot people.

Education:  St. Eustache Manatoba's, Dr. Roul J. McKay a teacher of first nations culture and founder of First Voice Multimedia Inc. that chronicles aboriginal history's and life story documentaries.

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