A musician, an entrepreneur, a hockey player, a lawyer. Laura Niquay, Mélanie Paul, Mikisiw Awashish and Katie Plante have chosen different paths, but are all driven by the same desire: to promote their Indigenous heritage and culture, defend the rights and interests of victims of prejudice, and build bridges between all communities.
Their perseverance, commitment and accomplishments are sources of inspiration. As Canada prepares for its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, we would like to share their aspirations.
"Our identity is a strength."
"I was born to be a messenger," says Laura Niquay, who expresses herself through music and song and does it in her native language, in part to help keep it alive. Her most recent album, Waska Matisiwin, has landed her on the 2021 Long List for the Polaris Music Prize, which annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction.
Mélanie Paul is proving that women and Indigenous people have a place in the business world. "Our identity is not a constraint, it's a strength. You can succeed, even if you're Indigenous, or even if you're a woman," says the entrepreneur, who's working to create jobs to help people escape poverty and suffering.
Mikisiw Awashish's hard work enabled him to achieve his dream of playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and, he hopes, to pave the way for younger people. "You can't give up. When I got discouraged, I thought about all the young people in my community who looked up to me, and it motivated me to double down to succeed," he says with pride.
Katie Plante is a lawyer who wants us all to "broaden our knowledge in order to better learn from and work with Indigenous communities."
Desjardins supports the public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and legacy of residential schools. Together, we want to honour the survivors, their families and their communities.
For further learning
Here are four suggestions for you to learn more about Indigenous peoples and communities:
- Listen to the podcast Telling Our Twisted Histories External link. This link will open in a new window.
- Check out recommended books External link. This link will open in a new window. from the #IndigenousReads External link. This link will open in a new window. campaign
- Read about Canada's residential school system External link. This link will open in a new window.
- Learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's report Honouring the Truth External link. This link will open in a new window., Reconciling for the Future External link. This link will open in a new window.