(No. 224 - July 16, 2010 - 10 a.m. ET) The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), joined representatives from national Aboriginal organizations and the federal government earlier this week to congratulate the winners of the national Aboriginal Essay Competition 2010. The competition was sponsored by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and Cameco Corporation, in collaboration with the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
“Initiatives such as the Aboriginal Essay Competition underline the commitment of the government and department to engaging bright, internationally minded Aboriginal youth in foreign affairs and to making it an appealing career choice for them,” said Minister of State Kent.
The Minister highlighted the achievement of three Aboriginal young people who submitted winning essays on the role of Aboriginal people in Canadian foreign affairs and international trade.
“We need talented young people like you representing Canada, both here at headquarters and in our missions abroad,” said the Minister.
The Aboriginal Essay Competition invited Aboriginal students to offer their insights into the contribution of Aboriginal people to Canada’s international relations and/or the links between Aboriginal people and international issues.
The winning essay—“Advancing Canadian Foreign Policy by Addressing First Nations Issues”—was written by Joel Cardinal, a student at Simon Fraser University. As the author of the winning essay, Joel was invited to join a Canadian delegation to the third session of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, held in Geneva, Switzerland.
The two essays receiving runner-up awards were written by Lea Toulouse Florentin, a student at the University of British Columbia, and Kelly Campagnola, a student at Wilfrid Laurier University.
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A backgrounder follows.
For further information, media representatives may contact:
Senior Communications Adviser
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)
Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
In an effort to engage Aboriginal youth in Canadian foreign affairs, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT), Cameco Corporation and the Canadian Bureau for International Education launched the Aboriginal Essay Competition on March 2, 2010. The competition is an initiative of Donald Bobiash, DFAIT’s Aboriginal Champion.
The Aboriginal Essay Competition invited Aboriginal students to offer their insights into the contribution of Aboriginal people to Canada’s international relations and/or the links between Aboriginal people and international issues. In 2010, the first prize was a trip to the July 12 to 16 meeting in Geneva of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as part of the Canadian delegation. Honourable mentions are being awarded to two runners-up who, along with the winner, will receive a trip to DFAIT’s head office in Ottawa for meetings and a roundtable discussion.
DFAIT is working to increase the representation of Aboriginal people in the department. The Aboriginal Essay Competition, along with associated national advertisements, aims to raise DFAIT’s profile as an appealing career choice for Aboriginal youth.
The competition reinforces the connection between DFAIT’s work on international Indigenous issues, particularly in the Americas, and Aboriginal people in Canada. Both bilaterally and through regional organizations such as the Organization of American States, Canada is encouraging practical action that will have a tangible impact on the lives of Indigenous people.