Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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February 17, 2016

EDUCATION THE KEY TO SUCCESS, SAYS AWARD-WINNING STUDENT

MONTRÉAL, QC (February 17, 2016): Education is the key to success and can bring about a transformational change for the next generation of Indigenous youth, says award-winning high school Erickson Owen, who delivered an address to the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association Canada 16th Annual National Conference in Montréal today.

“Education can increase your knowledge and knowledge is power. If every Indigenous person pursued their education we can make a difference… for our future generations,” wrote Owen in the essay that earned him an Aboriginal Youth Financial Management Award. “Education can provide opportunities… in the careers and dreams for many youth. The important message that I am sending… to our leaders, community members and other youth is how we can make this transformation and encourage our people. If every Aboriginal pursued their education we can make a difference.”

A 17-year-old student from Poplar Hill First Nation, Owen achieved a perfect 100 per cent in his studies last semester. He addressed an assembly of Canada’s most prominent Aboriginal business and elected leaders on improving First Nation communities economically and socially as well as the importance of education.

“Last semester I was looking through articles and came across one that said that a student got a perfect average mark in his senior year in Toronto. I thought to myself that I could do it too,” said Owen in his speech. “I strived to achieve that goal to get a perfect mark on each assignment, the culminating project and the final exam. I did it. I wake up in the morning thinking that I did it and it makes me happy.”

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox was among the Aboriginal leaders from across the country in attendance to congratulate the award recipients.

“We are extremely proud of Erickson and we and we join with his family, his school and his community to celebrate his achievements,” said Fox. “We admire his commitment to excel in his studies and we hope that his success sends a message to all NAN youth that with hard work and determination they can succeed in anything they set their minds to.”

Owen attended elementary school at Abe Scatch Memorial School in Poplar Hill First Nation, where he received perfect attendance and most-improved student awards. He is now in his final semester at Pelican Falls First Nations High School located near Sioux Lookout, Ontario, and has consistently been on the honour roll.

“My parents always taught me that getting your education is the key to having a good life,” says Owen, who will be the first member of his family to graduate high school and advance to post-secondary education. He plans to pursue graduate and post-graduate degrees in finance and management and strives to obtain “sound financial and management skills to lead the next generation.”

Owen’s role model is business magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates and the youngster already has some suggestions for Aboriginal leaders, saying that a focus needs to be placed on employment opportunities for youth on-reserve so communities can advance economically and socially.

For more information please contact: Roxann Shapwaykeesic, Communications Officer – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4906 or cell (807) 251-6876 or by email rshapwaykeesic@nan.on.ca

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