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Youth honoured and surprised by award
Joseph Parsch of Smith's Landing among those recognized

by Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 4, 2014

In July, Joseph Parsch was recognized as the youth of the year at Smith's Landing First Nation.

The 22-year-old was presented with the award during the Akaitcho Territory Government's annual general assembly held from July 8 to 10 in Yellowknife.

"I was pretty much both honoured and surprised," he said of being recognized.

Parsch attended the Akaitcho Territory Government's annual general assembly as a voting youth delegate from Smith's Landing.

One elder and one young person were recognized from each of the First Nations which make up the Akaitcho Territory.

Parsch, who is working this summer with Smith's Landing as a member of a fire abatement crew, was informed in advance of the assembly that he was going to receive the award by Destiny Martin, the education co-ordinator with the band.

"She told me I was being nominated for the award because I excelled in my studies and that I made a real effort," he recalled. "I was taking a course at Aurora College, a trades access program."

Parsch completed the academic part of the program from February to May.

"I never completed the full course because I started work," he noted.

However, Parsch said he may return to the college in the future for upgrading and then might study to obtain a trade.

"I was thinking about plumbing," he said of a possible future career.

For now, he is into his second summer of working in fire abatement and as a brush cutter.

"That is mostly on band land of Smith's Landing First Nation around Fitz," he said, referring to Fort Fitzgerald, Alta., a community located 22 km south of Fort Smith.

Parsch said the fire abatement and brush-cutting program is important for cabins out on the land.

And, he said he enjoys working for the band.

"It's not bad," he said.

Aside from his summer job with Smith's Landing, he also occasionally works with the band at special events.

That included at the 44th Dene National Assembly of the Dene Nation held in Fort Smith in June.

Plus, he helped out during a special ceremony held on June 17 in Fort Fitzgerald to commemorate the signing of Treaty 8 in 1899.

Similar to many members of Smith's Landing First Nation, Parsch resides in Fort Smith.

"I live in town," he said. "But I wouldn't mind to live out on band land."

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