Tawnya Plain Eagle - National Youth Panel Nominee

Shari Narine
Cando Contributor

“It is important that our own stories as Indigenous people are being told, especially by Indigenous people,” said Tawnya Plain Eagle, who plans to start her own business where she can do just that.

The 24-year-old Piikani Nation member, who resides in Calgary, is in her fourth and final year of university at Mount Royal in Calgary where she is earning her Bachelor of Communications majoring in journalism. She already holds a diploma in digital communications and media from Lethbridge College.

“I find our own stories have always been watered down. I want to take my experiences and create a media outlet that focuses mainly on the nations that reside within Treaty 7 territory,” said Plain Eagle.

That she feels confident she can attain her goal speaks strongly of the girl, who grew up in the city, was a minority in the classroom, had few friends, and struggled with racism. While she is still a minority in the university classroom, her confidence is “way higher.” Now, she is a young woman who has interviewed politicians, speaks on panels, and talks in crowds.

“Tawnya focuses her journalistic efforts on telling positive stories about Indigenous people and trying to break away from negative stereotypes that are seen in mainstream media. Now that she is at a place where she can make a difference in her community, she uses that platform to tell positive stories of Indigenous people while confronting issues,” wrote Katrina Shade, with Piikani Resource Development Ltd., who nominated Plain Eagle for Cando’s National Youth Panel.

Plain Eagle says to be nominated is a “pretty amazing experience” and appreciates being seen as someone who is making a difference within her own community.

She holds that the journey she has taken – from shy girl to confident speaker – is an experience she can share with other members on the panel. Spending time with her grandparents on Piikani Nation, although she lived in Calgary, allowed her to maintain a strong connection with her culture and traditions.

Plain Eagle says it is important that youth have access to quality education and opportunities so they can find careers they can be passionate about.

“I want Indigenous youth to walk into the world with as much confidence as they can,” she said. “There are a lot of talented youth in Indigenous communities. It would be nice for them to be given equal opportunity to live out their dreams and ambitions.”

Plain Eagle is one of 12 youth vying for six positions on Cando’s National Youth Panel.