Speaker

Gabby J.

Grade 12

Student

Meet Gabby.

My given name is Gabby J. and my native name is Okimawwahchi Iskwew, which is Cree for Chief Mountain Woman. I am a grade 12 student. I was born and raised in Calgary on Treaty 7 territory and my family is from Neekaneet Cree Nation in Saskatchewan on Treaty 6 territory.  

One ceremony that is particularly important to me is Sundance. My family attends Sundance every summer when we travel home to Neekaneet. I was introduced to the Sundance by my grandmother and participating in these ceremonies has been an important aspect in helping me build a connection with my culture.  It has also helped me connect with my grandmother, who has helped teach me cultural traditions which I could not learn while living in Calgary. Another aspect which makes this special to me is having my grandmother make me a new ribbon skirt each year to wear at the Sundance.  

One way that I build relationships in my community is through sports. The sport that I am most passionate about is rugby. I play rugby both in school and outside school in a club. I am also on the school soccer team, wrestling team, and swimming team. Sports have always been a positive influence in my life. 

After I graduate this year, I will be attending the University of Calgary in the Bachelor of Science program. My long-term goal is to major in psychology and begin a career as a counsellor or therapist. 

Something that drew me to speak as part of the student panel is that it is a good opportunity to gain insight into important issues affecting Indigenous youth and to provide a youth perspective on changes that need to be made. Something I hope to gain from this experience is to build connections with peers, mentors, and others in the community. 

I will share about the significance of mental wellness for Indigenous youth. This is an issue for many indigenous communities and currently lacks the call to action it needs. Mental wellness is a vital factor which industries must assist with to achieve economic reconciliation.  

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