THUNDER BAY – Six Indigenous youth ambassadors from across Canada will meet with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) next week to urge to the UNCRC to pressure Canada to end inequities faced by First Nations children. The youth ambassadors will explain to the UNCRC how Canada discriminates against them in many areas, including education, health, child welfare, culture and languages.
This fall the UNCRC will review how well Canada is complying with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The youth ambassadors are hoping to influence the outcome of that review.
They will be accompanied to Geneva by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the Caring Society, Ed Bianchi, Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator for KAIROS, and Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth with the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (Ontario).
John-Paul Chalykoff, 24, is a member of Michipicoten First Nation, who currently studies education at Lakehead University in Ontario.
Chelsea Edwards, 16, from the Attawapiskat First Nation is the youth spokesperson for the Shannen’s Dream campaign (www.shannensdream.ca) for safe and comfy schools and equitable education on reserves. Chelsea has appeared on national and international media about the inequities in education and other areas affecting First Nations children and youth in Canada.
Helen Knott, 24, is a Dane Tsaa and Cree woman from Prophet River First Nations now living in Fort St. John, British Columbia. A recent graduate of a Social Service Worker and Diploma program and an Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program, Helen plans to pursue a Bachelors of Social Work next September. She is the mother of a young son and also a poet, writer and a community volunteer.
Madelynn Slade, 22, is a non-status Michel Cree from Alberta currently study Child and Youth Care in British Columbia.
Collin Starblanket, 15, a member of the Star Blanket Cree Nation, has been singing, dancing and participating in traditional ceremonies since an early age. A keen athlete, Collin also plans to study dentistry.
Kendall White has lived on Temagami First Nation for 12 years. She is involved with many extracurricular activities, particularly those concerning the environment. She recently traveled to Greenland, Iceland, Labrador and Nunavut along with 70 other youth from around the world, to study the effects of global warming first hand.