What do 25 students from Aboriginal communities across the country, their 12 chaperones and 20 Suncor employees have in common?
They all attended the 2014 Indspire Awards. Held on Friday, March 21, the gala honoured 14 Indigenous Canadians who have made remarkable impacts on their communities and achieved significant milestones in their fields.
“You realize that you can rise above the people who doubt you and be great,” affirms Ashley Jensen from the Fort McMurray #468 First Nations in Anzac. “Culture is a great part of who you are. I never really cared about my culture, but after this, I want to learn more and explore the possibilities.”
For over a decade, Suncor has brought a group of young students to the awards, from Aboriginal communities near our operations. The program recently includes a visit to post-secondary schools in the area so the youth gain a better understanding of what opportunities are available to them if they stay in school. A Suncor-sponsored luncheon with a few of our leaders and the 2014 Indspire award winners allowed the students a chance to hear the success stories and truly get “Indspired.”
“The most significant thing I learned on this trip is that there are plenty of successful Indigenous people who are leaders,” says Levi Campre from Fort McKay. “It is really enjoyable to see others succeed and it inspires me to do so.”
Karen Olson, team lead Aboriginal relations community development, has taken part in the program for the last four years. “Access to education and opportunities for Aboriginal youth is a key issue for Canada. We want to help them become engaged, committed leaders in their community and then perhaps also think about employment at Suncor in the future.”
Suncor also provides two bursaries for Aboriginal youth through the Indspire ‘Building Brighter Futures‘ bursaries and scholarship awards.