Since 1998, Suncor, through the Suncor Energy Foundation, has supported Indspire, an Indigenous-led registered charity with the vision to enrich Canada through Indigenous education and by inspiring achievement. Indspire's mandate is to assist First Nations, Inuit and Métis students reach their full potential through post-secondary education and training. It raises money from individuals, philanthropists, corporations, foundations, trade unions and others who want to be part of this vital work. In the last 15 years, over $100M have been distributed to 35,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis students.
The Suncor Indspired Youth Experience is a multi-day event where Suncor hosts Indigenous youth from communities near our operations to attend the Indspire Awards. The experience also provides opportunities to develop connections with other participants.
One of the highlights of this year's event was the Suncor youth luncheon with Indspire award recipients. To cap off the experience, participants attended the Indspire Awards gala, which recognizes and celebrates Indigenous professionals and youth who demonstrate outstanding career and community achievement.
"This trip truly inspired students to finish their education and become more involved to better their community," Said Carla Mae Oliver, chaperone from Kettle & Stony Point First Nation near Sarnia. "The students realized that they have the power to make a difference because of the stories and experiences shared by the recipients."
Suncor supports Indspire as part of our efforts to foster strong and resilient Indigenous communities, many of which are on or border Suncor's operations. The Indspired Youth Experience is just one way Suncor works to provide Indigenous youth with leadership and learning opportunities.
Kelly Young of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation in Newfoundland, and the East Coast Regional Chapter Lead for Journeys, a Suncor employee network to advance Indigenous inclusion at Suncor, reflected on her experience:
"It has been an absolute honour to be a part of this experience- and to have the opportunity to share my story with some incredible leaders. I was given space to speak on behalf of youth living in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the challenges we face reclaiming and being confident in our identity, through our culture and traditions." Kelly joined Suncor through the Indigenous Student program and now supports the Environment, Health and Safety department on the East Coast.
"I had the chance to hear the challenges, dreams and hopes from truly inspiring youth, and I will carry this experience forever. It is incomparably powerful to come together with other Indigenous youth, to ask questions, to be curious, to celebrate what makes us unique, to share commonalities with our values, and consider how we'd like to impact our future and the future of other Indigenous youth in this country. A huge wela'lin (thank you) for this adventure. This experience has been a life-changing journey!" said Kelly.
Didn't get a chance to watch the 2020 Indspire Awards? Canadians can check it out here!