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The National Aboriginal Role Model Program celebrates the accomplishments of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit youth. mindyourmind volunteer Sharon, 22, interviewed Charlotte Qamaniq, an Inuit role model from 2009 about her involvement and advocacy in the program.National Aboriginal Role Model Ceremony June 20, 2009 Museum of Civilization, Gatineau. 2009-2010 Role Models. There is an inevitable turmoil created when one is pulled toward modern ways and longs for their old ways. Although I am not of native decent, I have a strong longing for the traditional ways. I am studying traditional healing methods in the hopes to make great changes in myself. Researching the Lead Your Way Role Model program had me revisiting my time in the North deeply in my mind. I spent a year in a fly-in community in the Northwest Territories volunteer teaching. I've been researching the history of indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world and I feel altogether overwhelmed. It was disturbing to learn about 'cultural genocide' and my heart sinks when I try to think of things that I can do to help, but little comes to mind. There seems to be a contradiction inherent in trying to help someone keep autonomy, but I hope the role model program empowers youth to keep their culture and stay strong in mind, body and spirit. "In order to help the world, we must first help ourselves." Here are some questions...
What was your reaction to being nominated to be a part of the National Aboriginal Role Model Program?
I was shocked and pleased at the same time, I knew of NARMP but I never would have guessed that I would be nominated and chosen.
Has this program led youth in your community to look up to you? Have you found yourself filling a role of guidance in your community?
I have assumed responsibility as a role model for youth in my community, which could either be the Inuit community in Ottawa, Iqaluit or Igloolik. I believe some people may be looking up to me now. Whether or not I am a role model to all youth, I’m not sure. I do keep this responsibility in mind and take it seriously.
Is role modeling a responsibility that you find comes to you naturally or does it take effort to be a person that you are proud of?
I find this comes naturally to me, I am proud to be someone youth can look up to because I am proud of myself and I’m always striving for success in life. I like to promote healthy lifestyles to other youth so that they can have success in theirs.
As a native youth, what are some of the issues that affect you in your own life?
I am affected by the fast change in the lives of my parents' and grandparents' generation. I may not have experienced living from igloos to houses in one lifetime, but the effects that has had on the generations before me have given me some issues that I need to deal with.
What changes do you hope to see in your community and in Canada or the world as a whole regarding First Nations peoples?
I would love to see youth being regarded as leaders of today, not just the future. I want to see addictions being faced by everyone, and the abuse that is a result of them. I want Aboriginal languages and culture to be revived. Those are a few of the things I would like to see in communities and in Canada.
Have you encountered healing methods that you could share with others?
I have encountered First Nations healing methods, they seem to be more common. But something I would love is healing methods for Inuit to use and believe in. I don’t know of any.
What inspires you to reach your goals?
My children are my reason for living a good life, and making goals and striving for them. Children learn from the ones raising them, they need role models to look up to in order to have a healthy life.
What is it like to have your face on posters in schools and public spaces around Canada?
Unbelievable! I’m pretty shy about it, but it makes my parents proud.
Photo from naho.ca
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