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Metis woman honoured to be part of delegation: delegation visits Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica.

Being active as a youth gave Jaime Koebel ample opportunity to be a spokesperson and travel out of the country. But perhaps her greatest opportunity came along just recently when she represented Canada's Aboriginal people as part of a delegation with Michaelle Jean and husband Jean-Daniel Lafond on a state visit to Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica.


"I'm still processing it all because it was such a whirlwind of an experience," Koebel said of the December 2009 trip.

"I mean we were travelling with motorcades and police, Guatemalan military, there was a lot of (distinguished) people from the different countries ... so it was quite overwhelming but it was amazing at the same time."

The 31-year-old mother of three--who is a researcher for the Metis Settlement General Council in Ottawa--said she was honoured to be in the company of such prestigious delegates. She also appreciated the chance to educate others about being Metis in Canada.

"It's hard to be recognized in Canada from the general Canadian population as a Metis person period," Koebel said, particularly in the east. "Within Canada it's hard to explain who Metis people are, in another country it is difficult."

Koebel grew up in Lac La Biche, in northern Alberta, and moved to Ottawa 10 years ago to work at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Shortly afterward, she started university and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Canadian Studies, going on to work towards a Master of Arts.

As a young adult, Koebel was involved in the National Association of Friendship Centers' Aboriginal Youth Council, the Future Trek Initiative of the National Capital Commission, and Multiculturalism and the Status of Women. She also helped plan the World Conference Against Racism in 2000-01.

"I think my past involvement as an active and engaged Aboriginal youth contributed to everything," she said. "It contributed to my knowledge in university, in a practical sense as opposed to a book sense."

Besides holding down a job as a researcher, acting as a spokesperson for Aboriginal rights, and being a full-time mom, Koebel is also a professional jigger in the Ottawa-based Metis trio Jig on the Fly. On top of that, she finds the time to create artwork, often for shows and professional purposes. This experience in the arts made her a suitable candidate for the Governor General's delegation.

She was specifically asked along to speak about arts and culture, and spoke about Aboriginal issues such as Metis identity and residential schools.

"One of the highlights of awareness I was bringing to people was the idea of residential schools and what the process is right now in Canada," she said.

The Governor General also spoke about residential schools and their affect on the Aboriginal population.

"I was proud to be a Canadian and to hear our Governor General, who is very well-versed and supportive of the process," Koebel said, adding that she sees Canada doing a lot in other countries with all the projects that they implement.

"And I feel as just a regular Canadian, as an Aboriginal Canadian, there's a great potential for partnerships with people from other countries. Whether it's to improve their own situation in their own country or give their experience or assistance in another country," she said.

Koebel's blogs and photos during the trip can be found at


Sweetgrass Writer

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Title Annotation:COMMUNITY
Author:Fiddler, Christine
Publication:Alberta Sweetgrass
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Feb 1, 2010
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