Achievement award winners announced.
The National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation has announced the recipients of this year's National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, including two recipients from Ontario.
Joe Jacobs from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory will receive the arts and culture award. He is a self-taught carver and sculptor. His pieces are in collections at the Museum of Civilization, the Joseph Brant Museum, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and the Royal Ontario Museum, among others. He currently lives in Lewiston, N.Y.
Thomas Dignan is also a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. He receives his achievement award in health. Dr. Dignan was a nurse before he became a doctor, and was the first president of the native Nurses Association and the founding member of the Native Physicians Association. At the time of his graduation (1981) he was the first First Nations person and the oldest to graduate from the Faculty of Medicine at McMaster University.
People from Canada's north seemed to receive the lion's share of this year's awards. Included among them is this year's community development award recipient Judy Gingell. She also hails from the Yukon territory and is a member of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. Gingell has held the position of chair of the Council for Yukon Indians, and was the first First Nations person appointed as Commissioner for the Yukon territory.
Gingell is a current board member with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). Chambers also has an APTN connection. Her program Venturing Forth, a series that focuses on Aboriginal business, language, culture and youth, is in its fifth season there.
Bertha Allen will receive the lifetime achievement award. Allen is from the Gwich'in First Nation in the Northwest Territories. She is the former president of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women in the territory, and founding president of the Native Women's Association there. Allen also once held the top post of the national women's organization. She currently lives in Inuvik.
Lolly Annahatak is an Inuit from Nunavik, Que. She will receive the award in the social services category. Annahatak is a champion of the challenged, having had to break down barriers herself since she lost her sight at age 16. She was the first Inuk to earn a certificate in Northern Social Work and went on to get her bachelors of Social Work at McGill University where she develops and teaches classes.
Andy Carpenter Sr. is an Inuit of the Northwest Territories, born and raised in the Inuvialuit region. He will receive the environment award. Carpenter has devoted his life to conservation and sustainable use of wildlife by all peoples.
Sharon Firth is the sports award recipient. She is from the Tel'lit Gwichin First Nation of the Northwest Territories. She is perhaps best known for her Olympic games achievements, competing in skiing at four Olympic games beginning in 1972 at the Sapporo, Japan games.
Brenda Chambers is the recipient of this year's media and communications award. Material provided by the foundation reports she was instrumental in creating the Aboriginal Film and Television Program certificate at Capilano College, where she has taught since 2001. Chambers currently calls Kelowna home, but she was born in Whitehorse and is a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation of the Yukon.
Chambers also has an APTN connection. Her program Venturing Forth, a series that focuses on Aboriginal business, language, culture and youth, is in its fifth season there.
This year's youth award recipient has a northern connection as well, having moved to Iqaluit with her family from Erickson, Man. when she was just five years old. Fauna Kingdon was one of the first pages for the Legislative Assembly for the territory of Nunavut. She is currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Commerce program at the University of Manitoba's I. H. Asper School of Business.
Slightly farther south lives this year's business and commerce award winner, Douglas Golosky. The Golosky Group of Companies has its headquarters in Fort McMurray, Alta. Golosky is Metis and his companies provide a wide variety of industrial products and services to clients in the oil and gas, pulp and paper and construction industries.
From Lac La Biche, Alta. is Emma LaRocque, this year's recipient in the education category. She currently lives in Winnipeg, Man. and has a 25-year career as a professor with the University of Manitoba where she developed the core courses in the Native studies department.
Canada's East Coast is represented in the heritage and spirituality category with recipient John Joe Sark. He is from Lennox Island First Nation, P.E.I. and currently lives in Charlottetown. He is a spiritual leader for the Mi'Kmaq, and was involved in the drafting of the United Nations' Declaration of Indigenous Peoples of the World. He was executive director and artistic director of the film Spirit World-The Story of the Mi'Kmaqs and wrote a book of history about the Mi'Kmaq people.
The National Aboriginal Achievement Award show gala will be held in Saskatoon on March 31. Two of the 14 recipients have connections to that province. Eber Hampton, Chickasaw Tribe, Oklahoma, will receive his award in the education category. Dr. Hampton became president of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, now First Nations University of Canada, in 1991. He spearheaded the fundraising campaign to build the university's main campus. Hampton currently lives in Regina.
Dr. Gerald McMaster is a member of the Siksika Nation in Alberta, but has a greater connection to the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan. He was curator of the Canadian Museum of Civilization from 1981 to 2000 and then was appointed as both deputy assistant director for cultural resources and director's special assistant for Mall exhibitions at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. In 2001, Dr. McMaster was the first Aboriginal person to receive the ICOM-Canada Prize for national and international contributions in museology.
BY DEBORA STEEL