Youth seen as “strong advocate” for her community
By Shari Narine
Last year Lorralene Whiteeye, only 19 years old, was part of a delegation formed by the Ontario Regional Chief to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Vancouver at the Assembly of First Nations First Ministers’ meeting to talk about climate change.
“It was a great experience,” said Whiteeye, who is Ojibwe from of Onigaming First Nation and Pawnee and Southern Arapaho from Oklahoma.
Now studying at Humber College in Toronto and working toward her paralegal diploma, Whiteeye’s career aspirations go much further than that.
“I hope to practice Aboriginal law and open my own firm once I become a lawyer,” she said, adding that she wants to help the 23 per cent of Aboriginal people who face criminal charges.
It’s partially this goal that influenced her Chief and council to nominate her for Cando’s National Youth Council.
“She will be a strong advocate for the Anishinaabe community in the justice system,” wrote Chief Kathy Kishiqueb in Whiteeye’s nomination letter.
Kishiqueb called Whiteeye “a resilient, motivated and inspiring young Anishinaabekwe,” connected to her culture, working hard with youth to keep them moving forward in healthy ways, and being a “strong and positive role model.”
“I'm humbled to be viewed as a leader in my community,” said Whiteeye. “I love being culturally rooted to my land and my people.”
Whiteye says she is excited to have the opportunity to be considered for the National Youth Panel.
Whiteeye believes she can bring diversity to the panel. Having grown up in a First Nation community and now living in Toronto, she feels she can offer that insight. As well, she has travelled throughout North America to First Nation communities talking about her story and resiliency and connecting with youth and others.
It is the concept of resiliency that Whiteeye holds as her top priority for Indigenous youth, which she wishes for them to express and experience through understanding the importance of education, being confident in themselves as Indigenous people, and being understanding.
“There's so much that comes with being Indigenous that you have to be able to understand the other person’s perspective. Maybe they don't know, and want to learn,” said Whiteeye.
Each year Cando selects six Indigenous youth to form the National Youth Panel, a signature event at the Cando Annual National Conference which will be held in Fredericton, New Brunswick, from Oct. 22-25. Selections for the panel are based on their strengths, initiatives, accomplishments, entrepreneurial spirit, and participation within their communities.