Youth to serve
Qalipu First Nation names first youth representative
GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR — The Qalipu First Nation Band has its first youth representative.
Twenty-year-old Jessica Saunders, a representative of the Exploits ward, was voted into the position at the Mi’kmaq band's inaugural youth gathering Sept. 13 to 15 in Pasadena.
There were 20 youth from across the nine wards present at the gathering and four people ran for the new council position. In addition to Saunders, the other candidates were Jeff Young, Stephenville ward; Sam Gardiner, Exploits ward; and Kaylee Sullivan, St. George’s ward.
Originally a resident of Bishop’s Falls, Saunders spent her time speaking on the environment and mental health. Both were topics that came up numerous times through conversation and group sessions during the gathering.
“We need to have important conversations about conservation, climate change and things we can do in Newfoundland to protect the future for our children,” Saunders said in a release.
A new mother, volunteering isn’t anything new for the current resident of Sandy Point. She served on the student council and also coached volleyball at her high school. Saunders was member of a school youth advisory committee that planned a mental health conference and encouraged conversation around the topic.
As the newly elected youth representative, she plans to engage people through various social media streams. She extends an open invitation to all Indigenous youth — status and non-status — to attend the youth gathering.
There was also a vote to elect an alternate youth representative as a way to support Saunders' position.
Salome Barker from the Exploits ward was elected to that position over Victoria Stacey from the Glenwood ward.
Saunders will attend her first meeting when the band council meets in November.
Newly elected Qalipu First Nation Band youth representative Jessica Saunders, left, with Elder Odelle Pike.