Description: Indigenous public servants share their experiences and advice with Indigenous youth new to the public service.
Date: February 8, 2017
Creator, we thank you. We thank you for all being here. We give thanks on this day as it is a special day for all Indigenous Aboriginal Peoples. This is the day that we recognize our youth because they will be our future leaders.
When I started in 1978 with Corrections, I was the only Native officer in the Ontario Region for the first 10 years of my career. Then a competition came up to move into a senior correctional officer. So, I applied for it. She said, "You should be thankful you have a job because you're only an Indian, you know." It didn't deter me; it made me more determined to stay.
I have been called a Métis wannabe. I've been called a half breed. I have faced stereotypes that you wouldn't believe. So, I took it as an opportunity, and I now deliver a three-hour information awareness course on Métis. To break down those ideas and stereotypes, to inform others, that's what we have to do.
My mother has been very inspiring to me. We moved around a lot. It was a single parent home… I watched my mother struggle, and then she came and she got a position with the public service working on Aboriginal files. Watching her grow, that is what inspired me, because I wanted to do just as much meaningful work as what she was doing. Once I joined the public service, it opened my eyes to all these programs that are being offered.
It was my interest based on seeing, growing up, a lot of crazy things and wanting to do my best to understand the issue. So I began to ask questions and I quickly wanted to learn the function of government, and so I thought it would be a great idea for me to enter INAC and learn from there.
Don't be afraid to ask questions because it never hurts. I still don't have a degree, so the position that you guys are in is phenomenal.
You'd be surprised that, at times of hardship or times of confusion, you aren't the only one that has ever experienced that. So I encourage you to stay connected, potentially as an alumni group. I would encourage you to understand and get well acquainted with your rights as an employee. Familiarize yourself with the human resource manual. Explore what training opportunities are available to you, and always seek appropriate training opportunities. Don't be afraid to ask your supervisor to be able to access training.
I would just advise everyone to really find your passion and then, if you can, find a position within one of the departments that's really going to let you grow and capitalize on those passions and that drive.
Express, tactfully, your concerns. Communicate, always communicate. Communication is the most important thing in the public service and any workplace. If you have a hard time, just set that item aside and then look at it from a different perspective. Always look at it from every single angle, through somebody else's eyes.
Make connections, talk to people. Take charge. You are the ones responsible for what it is that you're doing. If you don't have anything to do and you're sitting there quiet, go ask around. I've overseen a lot of students; great impressions are made by the go-getters, and you guys are all go-getters because you're all here.
These three young women and you guys, like—oh, wow. What opportunities you have, and you're all to be admired. You're all to be admired, and like they all said, ask questions. Be the bug. Offer your opinions, just be there because this is now and this is the rest of your lives.
There's a lot of momentum right now amongst the younger generation to get involved with government, and I think a program like this is doing great things.
The relations between the federal government and the Indigenous groups, they have been really trying to be proactive in strengthening the ties, and I think that also makes a huge difference because, given the history, there's always been tensions amongst these groups. Now, I think by making sure that they include Indigenous youth, they're able to build stronger ties for the future.
It's fantastic because you get to have… You get to interface with people who are going to be future Indigenous leaders.
When I heard that it was the Indigenous component mixed in, I was really keen on being in it because I've been away from where I'm from, which is Nunatsiavut, for such a long time, and I thought this would be a really good opportunity for me to be around other Indigenous students. If you're looking to gain not only work experience but looking to grow as a person, looking to grow within your culture, working for the federal government in our program is one of the best experiences that you could probably get under your belt.
If you have very rooted beliefs, it's almost better to go to the federal service because then you can make change happen, you can participate in it, and I think that's one of the best things that we can do.
Creator, we thank you for this day. We thank you for the people that have been here. Thank you for the youth, our leaders. So, Creator, bless us all and guide us and I say meegwetch to you all. Meegwetch. Thank you.