Leaders in Red Deer’s First Nation, Métis and Inuit community were honoured during the first ever Turtle Awards, held at Red Deer Lodge Friday.
The event was organized by the Red Deer Native Friendship Society and moved forward even after the organization having to cope in recent weeks with losing its facility to fire.
Sheralle Graystone, executive director of the Red Deer Native Friendship Society, said the centre has been through turmoil the last few weeks, but the strong team made sure the awards happened.
In all 16 people were honoured, with teachers, students, service providers, entrepreneurs, musicians and athletes among those recognized.
Terry Lakey was one of two people given the education award. The teacher at Joseph Welsh Elementary School thanked his mother, who raised six boys and encouraged him to go on to university.
“The person you become is based on those who surround you and I must say I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to be surrounded by a lot of good people,” Lakey said. He was honoured for the work and dedication he puts into his students.
Erin Currie, from the Samson Band in Hobbema, was given the Health Award for her resilience despite the barriers in her life.
Currie, who has a visual impairment and is in a wheelchair, has managed to be a straight A student in university, with offers from some of the top universities in the U.S. to continue her studies.
“A lot of people ask me how I’ve done all this . . . The thing is I tell them, you know what, no matter how many things are thrown at me, what matters is how you deal with it,” Currie said. She said it’s about learning something from everything that is thrown at you.
The around 70 to 80 people who attended the event were awed by the Red Thunder Dancers, a group made up of young people between the ages of 16 to 25. Their performance included a dancer doing a hoop dance, jingle dress dancers and even the audience joining in for a round dance around the banquet hall.
Amanda Ens, the aboriginal initiatives co-ordinator for Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority, spoke about the importance of community. She quoted Shining Arrows, saying, “If you have 100 people who live together and each one cares for the rest then there is one mind.”
Ens said that is an accurate representation of Red Deer and area, with people of different backgrounds who have one common goal to make things better.
Other award winners are:
• Volunteer award: Dean Johnston;
• Service provider awards: Ruby Marshall and Mandy Griffiths;
• Dance award: Dawn Johnson;
• Music award: Trent Agecoutay;
• Female youth award: Megan Louis;
• Health award: Erin Currie;
• Education awards: Terry Lakey and Glen Waskewitch;
• Male youth award: Tyrone Cattleman;
• Kookum award: Bertha Poor;
• Mooshum award: John Crier;
• Visual arts award: Stephanie Gillings;
• Entrepreneur: Russell Burns;
• Traditional Practices: Lynn Jonasson;
• Lifetime achievement: Rosena Winnie.