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Cassidy McKellop

2022 Youth DDYAA Winner

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I am Mi’kmaq from Lennox Island First Nation, but I lived off reserve all my life. I graduated from the Child and Youth Care Worker Program at Holland College in May 2021. I worked many jobs before and after graduating I have always loved working with youth and helping people in my community. I grew up with grief and pain with two parents who struggled with addictions and a past of residential school and day schools with close family members. I felt so very lost and frustrated with my situation at the time. It took me a long time to heal and to use all the confusion and frustration and turn it into something that was not only healing for myself but hopefully for others. I know I would have benefited from having someone to look up to help me find my way and understand me, this is why I became a youth worker so I could be the support for youth around me so they would never have to feel like I did when I was younger. Since I grew up off-reserve and my Mi’kmaq culture was taken away out of fear from residential schools and the day schools I never got to learn and experience my culture fully until I was further into my teenage years. As I grew older, I became brave for my family and started to reach out and learn about my Mi’kmaq culture for myself and for my family whose culture was wrongfully stripped away from them. The more I learned and experienced the closer my mother, grandmother and I became we got to learn about our culture together and our souls felt whole again. We gained confidence and felt love and found in our community through our culture.


I have always felt like there is a gap in our system, especially to off-reserve youth with support and culture it is starting to become more available and there are more options for youth now for their culture, but I wanted to help become the change and help support my community since the youth are our future and they are so important in keeping our culture alive and stronger than ever!


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Corinne Chappell

2022 Adult DDYAA Winner

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Ms. Corinne Chappell, member of the Mi’kmaq First Nations, joined UPEI as the Advisor to the VPAR on Indigenous Affairs in 2021. Her work includes planning, developing, and implementing Indigenous initiatives at UPEI. This includes providing guidance on stakeholder collaborations and helping to develop a better understanding of and response to the Calls to Action that relate to post-secondary education as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report. Ms. Chappell has played an important role in the development of the new Faculty of Indigenous Knowledge, Education, Research, and Applied Studies.

Ms. Chappell holds Master of Education degrees from both UPEI and St. Francis Xavier University and is a Doctor of Education student at Western University. She has been teaching for over 20 years at the high school level. She co-founded and chaired the PEITF Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee and is a member the National Indigenous University Senior Leaders’ Association, based at First Nations University of Canada. Ms. Chappell is also widely regarded as a Mi’kmaq artisan, creating garments and art pieces that blend traditional styles with modern fashion. 

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2021 Youth DDYAA Winner

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I have worked extraordinarily hard to enhance the lives of youth that I have served in the past and the ones that I interact with in my position today. I partook in the engagement of a youth team through the Streetfront Program out of the Britannia Community in the past; collectively we have worked together to consistently run marathons over the years. Since engaging with this team, 3 of the members and myself have run 12 marathons with Streetfront. We have worked together to ensure that we are healthy enough to continue running, as well as achieving more through our lessons of perseverance and resilience. I also attended a program through John Oliver Secondary School, called the Take a Hike program. There I worked with other youth on 7 different multi-day camping trips to ensure our trips were planned out, properly prepared for and that we thrived in learning how to survive camping in the back country, We partook in journalism, and circle discussions. It is through this program I had the wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity of meeting the 14th Dalai Lama. Currently I work with the youth leaders of East Vancouver to ensure that they have access to social and economic opportunities on terms of housing, justice, child welfare, community development, cultural experiences, language revitalization, amongst other opportunites to ensure that they succeed in modern society. This award will help me to achieve my future goal of opening my own language and culture based alternate school in which youth will learn empowering from both indigenous and non-indigenous worlds. 


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2021 Adult DDYAA Winner

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Aretha is Cree from Kashechewan First Nation (Albany Band), born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She received a B.Applied in Communications in Professional Writing Degree from MacEwan University in 2012. She is currently a Graduate student in the Master of Arts in Communication and Technology from the University of Alberta, where she is exploring reconciliation. Aretha is a community-driven individual who has served on multiple boards and is currently the Vice-President for the Indigenous Congress of Alberta Association. Aretha is a storyteller that believes that the best way to inspire others is to lead by example and create space, and that has carried through both in her personal and professional life. 


Aretha is a film producer, director and writer who has created documentaries on residential schools, the 60s Scoop, and the history of the pow wow. She is an entrepreneur who owns a media production company, Miyo Pimatisiwin Productions Inc.: Indigenous people telling Indigenous Stories. Aretha hopes to help others follow their passions and support youth empowerment through mentorship opportunities. Each project has held space for youth mentorship, which is why in 2016, Aretha was recognized as Cultural Ambassador for the Women of Inspiration Award from the Canadian Business Chicks for her work with mentoring youth in filmmaking with Miyo Pimatisiwin Productions. Aretha has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant teaching digital literacy to youth as a part of a project to help Indigenous communities capture and preserve their own stories. Before the pandemic, Aretha was working with a local high school to direct a student-produced film. Aretha believes that the best way to give back to her community is to be the person she needs as a youth and young adult.

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