Published author named to National Youth Panel
By Sam Laskaris
Indications are Shayla Raine has a rather bright future.
And one can credit her perseverance for wanting to further her education and work towards her goals after she became pregnant and a single mother at age 15.
“Having a daughter very young was a driving force for me,” said Raine, a member of the Louis Bull Tribe, a First Nations band in Alberta.
Raine, who is now 22 and a second-year student in Kelowna, B.C., at the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia, was keen to complete her high school education after giving birth to her daughter Ayla, who is now seven.
“I had a lot of help,” Raine said. “I had a very supportive family.”
Raine, who is studying health and exercise science at university, is now considered a role model.
In fact, she’s one of six individuals that have been named to the National Youth Panel for this year’s Cando Conference. The four-day event will be staged May 16-19 at the Dakota Dunes Resort located on Whitecap Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan.
Raine believes one of the reasons she was chosen for the panel was because earlier this year she independently published a children’s book titled The Way Creator Sees You.
The book is a long, free verse poem about Kihew, a Plains Cree boy that is struggling to accept his Indigenous features.
Raine wrote, published and marketed the book by herself. She’s also one of the book’s illustrators.
Raine is thrilled she was named to the National Youth Panel.
“I’m very humbled,” she said. “It’s really exciting too.”
Raine added she’s somewhat surprised to be recognized as an Indigenous youth leader now.
“I just published my book in January,” she said. “I feel like I’m just starting my journey.”
Cando’s National Youth Panel includes Indigenous individuals who are considered role models and are aged 29 and under.
After completing her high school studies, Raine attended an Alberta college for a year. She then spent a year in the Canadian Armed Forces before deciding to move to British Columbia and commence her university career.
She’s also got several other projects in the works now.
Raine has finished writing a novel, which has been submitted to a publishing company. And she’s also working on a documentary, with her partner Ryan Oliverius, titled Decolonizing Wellness.
Oliverius, a councillor with the Okanagan Indian Band, was a member of Cando’s National Youth Panel in 2019.
Decolonizing Wellness includes a holistic view of wellness and features interviews with various Elders and Knowledge Keepers.
Once she has completed her current university program, Raine is planning to take an 18-month education course that UBC offers. She is hoping to eventually become a physical education teacher.
“It’s subject to change though,” she said of her career aspirations.
As for her more immediate future, Raine is preparing for her appearance on the National Youth Panel.
“I’m hoping that the stories I’ll be sharing will inspire (conference attendees) to not give up on their goals,” she said.