Cando National Youth Panel


The National Youth Panel was brought forth in an effort to showcase Aboriginal youth. A lot is said about Aboriginal youth and the need for programs to help and inspire them. Cando wanted to take a different approach and showcase the youth who are out in their communities, succeeding and working hard for the betterment of their people.

The first National Youth Panel was centered on Aboriginal youth and their success in entrepreneurship. Aboriginal youth are out there making their visions a reality, working tirelessly and making sure that their communities become vibrant and self-sustaining. Cando’s National Youth Panel is now entering its 9th year.

Each year Cando selects six Aboriginal youth participants from numerous nominations. The Cando Board, Conference Committee & Staff thoughtfully select the youth based upon their strengths, initiatives, accomplishments, entrepreneurial spirit of launching their careers, and participation within their communities.

This year’s National Youth Panel was held during Cando's Annual National Conference & AGM on October 28-31, 2013 in Winnipeg, MB.

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Corey Cook, Bloodvein First Nation, MB

Corey is a young entrepreneur, role model, and musician from Bloodvein First Nation who writes his own music and performs at many events in and around Winnipeg. To date, he has had one album produced and looks forward to completing other related projects.  Corey’s life changed four years ago when he joined Mimo Bimaadiziwin - Ojibway for "the good life" - a program introduced in 2007 at Southeast Collegiate, a Winnipeg high school for native students. The program started out as a challenge for students to abstain from drugs and alcohol but quickly evolved into a support group for students in crisis. Corey is now an advocate for Mino Bimaadiziwin, a program that teaches First Nations youth lessons of their culture's history and ways to cope with the specific issues that challenge them, including how to avoid substance abuse, gangs and peer pressure. Last year, as a spokesperson for the Mimo Bimaadiziwin program, he went on a speaking tour across the province as part of the National Aboriginal Addictions Awareness Week. He continues to spread his message of hope by visiting schools in various native communities in the province. Corey shares an important message about how living "the good life" without drugs or alcohol is helping him build a better future and can do the same for others. Recently, in May 2013, Corey participated in and completed the Emerging Innovators Boot Camp in Toronto, Ontario, that was sponsored by American Express. The invited participants were those chosen for Youth in Motion's Top 20 under 20 Award. Corey was named to Canada's Top 20 under 20 in 2012 and is the first Aboriginal recipient of the award. 

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 Sarah Erasmus, Yellowknife, NT

Sarah Erasmus, born and raised in Ndilo, a Yellowknives Dene settlement at the edge of Yellowknife, is a young, successful entrepreneur and roel model. With the help of her business partners, the 100 per cent Aboriginal-owned Erasmus Apparel was established in January of 2011. The retail storefront opened for business in 2012 to accommodate the high demand for Sarah’s clothing and products, custom designed and produced by a northerner for northerners. Sarah is very proud of her Aboriginal roots and looks to give back to the community at any opportunity she can find. A prime example of this is her ongoing support of local students through sponsorship of the "Outstanding Student Award" at Kalemi Dene School. Each year, one deserving student is recognized with an award, a gift and a plaque at the school. Sarah recognized the benefits that the school provides to Aboriginal youth and took it upon herself to provide a little recognition of this through the award.  She fully funds the award and shows up to the Kalemi Dene School's award ceremony every year to present the award to a deserving student. The students love the ceremony and the award, and it would not be possible without Sarah's support. Sarah’s creativity and generosity also take center stage during the Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer Awareness months. Every year during the autumn months, the Erasmus Apparel Breast Cancer Awareness and "Movember” merchandise are among the hottest items in town with a portion of the profits from their sales being donated to support these wonderful causes. Sarah has proven to be a savvy businesswoman and role model to all Aboriginal youth by showing that with a little hard work and dedication you can achieve your dreams.  She has provided future aspiring entrepreneurs with a blueprint of how to successfully pursue your dreams while remaining true to your roots. 

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 Joshua Jackson, Enoch Cree Nation, AB

Joshua is from the Enoch Cree Nation, AB where he is widely recognized as a role model, leader and established artist. Being a musician by profession, Joshua has written, recorded, performed and experienced an assortment of different musical expressions. After studying theatre at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Joshua has been lucky enough to witness top-level artists at the prime of their careers. He is a well-rounded musician, vocalist and songwriter. Joshua wanted to share the knowledge he gained as a student in an elite Fine Arts program at the University of Nevada, and offer a program that involves, encourages, inspires and teaches youth that they too can make their dream a reality. Since founding the Enoch Fine Arts Summer program in 2009, Joshua realized his dream to promote art education in his home community. Each year, Joshua returns to his community to dedicate his summer to the youth, coaching and mentoring them through the highly acclaimed Enoch Fine Arts Summer program, recently renamed "SOAR”.  This program works to build self-esteem, healthy relationships, work ethic, and communication skills, while honing the artistic talent of the youth through the development of a major artistic production entirely written, directed and performed by young people from his community. The show was held at the Venue at The River Cree Resort on July 31st, 2013. There were tears and a standing ovation at the end of the show, which showcased youth entirely with music, dance, film, and acting. The "SOAR” program and youth showcase is one small aspect of what Joshua is able to do and he truly deserves acknowledgement for his superior dedication in all that he does for the youth of Enoch Cree Nation. 

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 Sierra Nowegejick, Pic River First Nation, ON

Sierra is a young Ojibwa woman of Pic River First Nation, residing in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  Sierra recently graduated high school, and is enrolled in her first year of post-secondary at Lakeland University. Sierra is acknowledged a natural leader, one who is able to bridge the gaps between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal youth in her community. She has been an active Friendship Center Youth Council member since 2009, and is currently the Youth Council President. She has worked tirelessly in this time with the youth in creating and developing programs that help youth empower themselves in making good decisions regarding life choices, while facilitating many sharing circles and youth retreats for her peers.  Sierra also has an entrepreneurial spirit, and dreams of opening a store in Thunder bay that would provide a retail center for  young local Aboriginal artists to sell their hand crafted jewelry, apparel, artwork, and traditional handicrafts. As a starting point, Sierra currently runs beading workshops and inspires young people to further themselves through their creative talents. It came as no surprise to those who know Sierra that she was awarded the "Community Involvement Award” at the Northwestern Ontario Aboriginal Youth Achievement and Recognition Awards. Sierra is the youngest person to ever participate in the National Youth Panel, and offers a truly fresh perspective on the challenges facing Aboriginal Youth today. With a zest for life, sparkling personality and awareness of the key issues and challenges surrounding youth in her community, Sierra is a truly unique young person who will put a smile on your face, inspiration in your heart and hope for a brighter future for Aboriginal Youth. 

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Rochelle Saddleman, Okanagan First Nation, BC

Rochelle Saddleman is a member of the Okanagan First Nation,  was born and raised in Vernon, BC and now resides in Prince Rupert, BC.  Initially, Rochelle had dreams of following in her Grandfather’s footsteps in running and operating the family business, the Little Kingdom Gas & Grocery.  After gaining experience working for the Okanagan Nation Alliance and assisting people in her Nation, Rochelle decided that she wanted to expand her horizons and work for Aboriginals on a national level.  With a new dream in mind, Rochelle joined the 2G Group of Companies where she has since become an integral part of the company’s strategic planning and project development team. 


In 2011, Rochelle earned her Bachelors of Business Administration from the Okanagan College in Kelowna, BC, specializing in Management and Human Resources operations.  Recently, Rochelle moved to Prince Rupert, BC to manage the Coastal Business Resources Centre (CBRC) as the Client Relations Manager. Her role within the center is to help facilitate positive and equitable business relationships between private sector organizations and regional First Nations in Northwest British Columbia. She will dedicate her time to assist all of the tenants and user groups associated with the CBRC to work towards creating joint ventures and partnerships that will benefit the economy of both British Columbia and Canada. Rochelle’s primary goal is to continue working to improve the lifestyles of not only her own community, but all Aboriginal communities throughout Canada. She will continue to travel to Aboriginal communities across Canada and meet with other Aboriginal youth to encourage them to follow their own dreams as she has. 

Learn more about the past Cando National Youth Panelists.