2011 National Youth Panel

In an effort to highlight Aboriginal youth initiatives and successes, Cando's Annual National Conference & AGM features a National Youth Panel. This event features Aboriginal youth who are pursing and speaking their ways of success in areas of education, working within the field of Aboriginal economic development and/or as individual entrepreneurs.

Some of the youth panelists education include: Community Economic and Social Development Course Programs; Media, Communications, and Visual Program; Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance; Bachelor of Management; Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Education; Master of Education and various other degrees and diplomas. The panel allows youth from across the country to showcase their talents, achievements and to talk about their challenges, strengths and the support they have received while working hard for the benefit of their people.

Learn more about the National Youth Panel and past Youth Role Models.

Elaine Alec, Okanagan and Shuswap Nations, BC

Elaine has been very blessed to have lived a wide variety of experiences at her young age. Some experiences have been a struggle but nonetheless have made her who she is today and given her the strength to continue to move forward to hold her head high, stand proud, and help others by lending her hand, sharing her story and inspiring change. Elaine has helped establish businesses for over 8 years and was integral in creating the foundation for hip hop group, "7th Generation.” Her experience comes from managing, coordinating, networking, and promoting Aboriginal people from behind the scenes. Elaine is a role model for the First Nations Health Council and Four Host First Nations. A runner, yoga teacher, jingle dress dancer and spokesperson for The Arthritis Society as well as a workshop facilitator and keynote speaker for healthy lifestyles. She is a published writer and former youth intern for the BC provincial government and advocates child and youth rights on both a provincial and national level.

Jeremy Diamond, Cree Nation of Nemaska

Jeremy Diamond was born in Moose Factory, ON. While he spends most of his time at work, as Communications Officer for the Nemaska Cree Nation Youth Council and also running his production company, JD Productions, whose ultimate goal is to make his community better, he still takes the time to be the family man that comes naturally to those from large families. Throughout his younger years he has been an activist and advocate to various causes and groups. Throughout his life, Jeremy has always been a source of inspiration for young people and everyone. He gives out messages and an energy that makes everyone feel like they can achieve anything they set their minds to. Through his volunteering to reach out to young people he has made a difference in the lives of community members. Mr. Diamond has been involved in initiating several business ideas and innovative operational management tactics. He has served as a founder and President of the Nemaska Youth Development Corporation where he helped build several business branches including a Web Cafe, a restaurant and clothing store. He has served as Youth Chief of Nemaska where he has created and managed 10 full-time employment positions, 20 part-time employee positions, reestablished the Youth Council, and has helped in generated funding revenue in excess of 1,000,000 dollars for youth programs and initiatives in his native community during his two year term. Jeremy Diamond has always been there for his people, and has been commended for his dedication to the Aboriginal people, wherever he meets them.

Shawn Johnston, Couchiching First Nation, ON

Shawn Johnston is an Ojibway from Couchiching First Nations. Shawn holds a college diploma in Social Work; he recently completed his 2nd year of Social Sciences at King’s University, and hopes to start the Bachelor of Social Work program this fall. Once he completes his undergraduate program, Shawn plans to continue with his education and earn his Masters of Social Work. Shawn’s goal is to one day work in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre or a chemical withdrawal facility. Shawn stays active by volunteering with the First Nations community on campus. His volunteer involvements include Indigenous Student Services and First Nations Students Association. Shawn knew that being a mature student would be challenging. He made the decision to go back to school because he believes that there is a need for more First Nations people in the field of social work. He has overcome many personal obstacles and doing so has allowed him to become empathetic and non-judgmental when working with people. Shawn looks forward to his next 3 years at King’s University College and plans to take advantage of all the opportunities that come his way. Shawn’s journey has just began and he is on his way to becoming a great leader.

Ashley R. Julian, Indian Brook First Nation, NS

Ashley Rebecca Julian is from the Indian Brook First Nation, a Mi’kmaq community located in Hants East, Nova Scotia, and part of the Shubenacadie Band. Ashley currently works as the youth coordinator at the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs (APC). Ashley is an active member of the Mi’kmaq Maliseet Atlantic Youth Council (MMAYC) representing the Piktuk region. She recently completed her studies from Dalhousie University, and is expected to graduate in October 2011, with a major in Political Science. Ashley is actively involved on campus as the Aboriginal Rep on the Dalhousie Student Union and is an executive member on the Dalhousie Native Student Association. Ashley has been elected in as the female Nova Scotia and Newfoundland representative for the Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council (NYC). Ashley is very involved with the Mi’kmaq culture, traditions and beliefs in various ways, including participating in spiritual activities and attending powwows as a Fancy Shawl dancer. In February 2010, Ashley had the opportunity to dance at the 2010 Winter Olympics at the Indigenous Youth Gathering; there she performed in the opening ceremonies. Aside from dancing and following the powwow trail, Ashley is involved in sports year round. She is currently playing ice hockey, is a teammate on the Dartmouth Renegades Soft-ball team and teammate on the Northumberland Silos ball hockey team in Salmon River, Truro. Ashley as a role model is well-known in the First Nation communities across the Atlantic Provinces and across Canada. She is active in her own community and as a member from volunteering in numerous youth events, sporting events and cultural gatherings.

Kendal Netmaker, Sweetgrass First Nation, SK

Kendal Netmaker grew up on Sweetgrass First Nation. He came from a low-income, single-parented family with few opportunities to play as much sports as he wanted to. Upon graduation he was fortunate to have obtained an athletic scholarship to play volleyball for Keyano College which is where he spent 2 years taking university classes. He then transferred to the University of Saskatchewan where he recently completed his Bachelors of Education and Bachelors of Arts (Native Studies). In his final year of school he launched his clothing company called Neechie Gear. Some of his accomplishments in just over a year include: 1st place in SIFE – 2010 Aboriginal Youth Idea Challenge; Finalist at the 2010 Big Idea2 National Pitch Competition; 2011 Saskatchewan Student Entrepreneur Provincial Champion – ACE; 3rd place in the 2011 Brett Wilson i3 Idea Challenge; a nominee for the 2011 SYPE Young Professional of the Year Award. Kendal had no prior business background prior to launching his business. He found mentors and advisors which enabled him to write his first business plan. Kendal has researched all areas of the Saskatchewan market through writing his business plans and has placed in some of the toughest business competitions in Saskatchewan and North America. Kendal respects his Cree background and stays involved in ceremonies and cultural teachings passed down to him from his family. Kendal’s passion for sports is what has driven him to his successes and continues to inspire others to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Sydney Paul, Kingsclear First Nations

Sydney Paul is a Maliseet woman from Kingsclear First Nations in New Brunswick. Currently Sydney is enrolled at the University of New Brunswick. She is in a process of receiving her CANDO certificate and her AFOA (Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada) certificate. Sydney has won four scholarships to help make her educational goals a reality. She does a lot of volunteer work surrounding youth and elders.

Rob "Kasp” Sawan, Driftpile First Nation, AB (Moderator)

Rob "Kasp” Sawan grew up in East Vancouver and by the age of 9, had witnessed more trauma and abuse than most grown adults will confront in a lifetime. As a result of multi-generational trauma and abuse brought upon his family and community from the residential school era, he grew up in and out of the child welfare system and eventually ended up in group homes and spent time living on the street. Kasp grew up living in the dysfunctional cycle of alcoholism and drug abuse and turned to his music as a way to escape and deal with his harsh reality. He eventually moved from Vancouver and became part of a crew which developed, wrote, produced, and marketed their own music and went on to win numerous prestigious awards that gave him national recognition. Kasp has struggled with his own personal issues, yet he continues to learn, grow, share and inspire through his music and story. He balances his personal, family, and career life through honesty and commitment. Kasp’s focus has shifted his music to a whole new level and he shares it with youth to motivate them to persevere no matter what happens in life. Kasp is dedicating his life to his family, his community and his people to show the youth that there is hope for a better today and brighter tomorrow.