Do you remember the first time you flew on a plane, played a new sport or met a childhood idol?
Aboriginal students engage with company leaders at Suncor’s 2014 Indspire Youth Luncheon.
Twenty-five deserving high school students from Aboriginal communities near Suncor’s operations were given the opportunity to experience many new ‘firsts’ when they were selected to attend the 2014 Indspire Awards earlier this year.
Indspire, a national charitable organization dedicated to helping Indigenous Peoples reach their full potential, recognizes 14 remarkable Indigenous individuals each year who have made substantial contributions to their communities and professional fields. From health to education, culture to business, Indspire laureates represent outstanding Indigenous leaders whose achievements are an inspiration to us all, including youth.
Since 1999, Suncor has supported Indspire by funding $4.6 million in scholarships, reaching Indigenous youth across Canada. Suncor also directly supports Aboriginal students from communities where we operate through its annual Indspire youth event: a three-day experience designed to expose students to the successes of the Indspire award recipients and motivate them to contribute to their own communities.
This year’s Indspire Awards ceremony was held in Winnipeg, Man., on the traditional territory of Treaty 1 and the Manitoba Métis Federation. Selected students, some travelling away from their families for the first time, attended the awards ceremony, met the recipients and visited area universities and colleges – activities aimed at showing students the score of opportunities available to them.
The Indspire experience
One of the biggest ‘buzz-generating’ events for students was the 12th annual Youth Luncheon. High school students (both local and visiting) met with Suncor leaders and Indspire award recipients to discuss celebrating triumphs, overcoming failures and finding their path to success. In their own words, here’s what some of the students had to say about their experience:
“It was so awesome because we got to talk to these inspirational people,” says Mackenzie Heck, a Metis student from Fort McMurray. “It was so nice to get some personal time with them and be able to talk to them about questions I have about life and just want some advice on.”
“It is inspiring to be here because it’s just motivating me more to keep going in school,” agrees Austin Williams, a student from Ontario’s Aamjiwnaang First Nation.
Not only were like-minded people brought together from across the country, the student trip also helped new friendships to form through fun ice breaker activities like a bowling night.
“Watching relationships between the kids develop was amazing,” says Mary Pat Campbell, manager of stakeholder and Aboriginal relations at Suncor. “At first everyone’s completely shy and introverted and within fifteen minutes they’re best friends. And I hope that friendship will continue.”
Watch this clip for a quick look at the students’ experience (approx. 2 min).
To hear more from students and get a step-by-step look into their inspirational journey, check out this more in-depth video (approx. 10 min).
The Indspire Awards are an important opportunity to acknowledge the success of Indigenous people, but it’s also important to regularly recognize the contributions of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples. That’s why, on June 21, people across the country will celebrate National Aboriginal Awareness Day. Check out activities happening in your area and join in the celebration.