Youth to serve

Qalipu First Na­tion names first youth rep­re­sen­ta­tive

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - NI­CHOLAS MERCER ni­[email protected]­cen­tralvoice.ca

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.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Newly elected Qalipu First Na­tion Band youth rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jes­sica Saun­ders, left, with Elder Odelle Pike.

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