Youth council term taught heritage prideAngela Koe Blake encourages Gwich'in youth to apply
Northern News Services
Thursday, November 17, 2016
For Angela Koe Blake, being on the Gwich'in Regional Youth Council helped teach her why she's proud of her heritage.
Angela Koe Blake, pictured speaking at the 2016 Gwich'in Tribal Council annual general assembly, encourages youth to apply for the Gwich'in Regional Youth Council. - Tony Devlin/GTC photo
Blake joined in 2014 as a representative from Tsiigehtchic.
"It was very, very awesome," she said.
"Travelling around (to the four Gwich'in communities), you meet a lot of different Gwich'in elders, and them seeing you in that position makes them really proud, because they worked so hard for change and they finally see youth coming out together and uniting."
The Gwich'in Regional Youth Council consists of eight Gwich'in youth ages 15-30 who meet regularly to engage with the different communities and discuss issues relevant to youth and Gwich'in people. The Gwich'in Tribal Council is currently seeking applicants for the next council.
Blake said she grew a lot during her time on the council. She especially highlighted the benefits she got from spending time with elders, who were always present at the group's meetings.
"It was an eye opener meeting all of these different Gwich'in elders, hearing their stories and knowing that you can be that change and you can try to make that change," she said.
It gave her a new perspective on life, one that was more focused on her heritage and holding onto the things that made Gwich'in people Gwich'in.
"(It's about) meeting people, travelling places and really learning what it is to be proud to be Gwich'in," she said. "That's the most important part."
Being on the council also helped prepare Blake for adulthood and push her outside of her comfort zone.
"I would really recommend youth to join because even if you're shy, it grows on you," she said. "It builds you up as a Gwich'in youth, knowing that you can make change and learn from the elders that are still around, because in the end it's all going to come back to us."
The council has extended its deadline for applicants to 5 p.m. on Nov. 21. Any Gwich'in youth from Inuvik, Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic or Fort McPherson is encouraged to apply to join the next council at email@example.com.