Davonna Kasook - National Youth Panel Nominee

Shari Narine
Cando Contributor

The world is still full of possibilities for Davonna Kasook.

The 22-year-old Inuvialuit woman from Inuvik recently completed a two-year environment and natural resources technology (ENRT) diploma program and while she works as a remote sensing assistant for Natural Resources Canada, that’s only the beginning. Her career aspirations include nursing or teaching or developing mental health initiatives for youth.

Kasook credits her wider outlook to having worked and volunteered after graduating from high school and while undertaking her post-secondary education.

She has also served as a member of the Inuvik branch of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Inuvik Ground Search and Rescue Team. This work, along with the ENRT program, has provided her with both traditional and scientific knowledge.

An opportunity to participate in a youth-led national mental health summit not only helped her personally – as she had struggled with her own mental health – but gave her the tools to return to her community and work against the stigma surrounding mental health.

It’s what she has accomplished in both her post-secondary life and volunteer life that encouraged Jordan Norman-Goose to nominate Kasook to Cando’s National Youth Panel.

“Her intellect exhibits a lot of potential for her as an individual and community member/leader. She is a very enthusiastic hard worker and has displayed a growing passion towards her education and helping the community and its residents,” wrote Norman-Goose in his nomination letter.

Kasook says she was “extremely honoured” to be nominated.

“After I looked into it and learned what the purpose of this youth panel is, I felt very proud to know that my hard work and dedication to my fellow youth and to my own personal education was being noticed. It’s a rewarding feeling to know that someone else wants you to be acknowledged for your efforts besides yourself,” she said.

Insight from a northern perspective; traditional and scientific knowledge; passion; respect; confidence; positivity; and a desire to learn; are all things Kasook says she can contribute to the panel.

She believes strongly that youth need to be provided with learning opportunities for cultural reclamation and revitalization, along with opportunities for communication among Indigenous youth.

Education is also a priority, something Kasook credits her single mother for instilling in her. But education goes beyond formal training. It is about mental health and self-care, “sharing and instilling the importance based on personal experiences”; traditional knowledge; and making tutoring available at both elementary and secondary levels so youth can experience success.