Awards honour local Indigenous leaders

·2 min read

WATERLOO REGION — Three local Indigenous leaders are getting recognition for their advocacy and activism.

Atlohsa Family Healing Services, a not-for-profit organization that provides Indigenous-focused programming and services, has chosen O:se Kenhionhata:tie — also known as Land Back Camp — as one of eight recipients of the 2020 Atlohsa Peace Awards.

Launched in 2018, the Atlohsa Peace Awards recognize leaders who make significant contributions toward addressing Truth and Reconciliation in their communities. Land Back Camp organizers Shawn Johnston and Amy Smoke are being honoured for their success in engaging the City of Kitchener, City of Waterloo, and the Region of Waterloo to address their calls to action. They are also being lauded for creating a space where urban Indigenous youth have been drawn in efforts to reclaim land, language, and traditions.

This year’s ceremony on Dec. 10 will feature live performances and a keynote from Sen. Murray Sinclair, the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba.

Proceeds from ticket sales for the awards ceremony go toward Zhaawanong in London, Ontario, a 24-hour emergency women’s shelter that provides Indigenous-led crisis support for women and their children at risk of violence, abuse and homelessness.

Smoke, manager of Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC) at the University of Waterloo, is also being recognized locally. Smoke has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the Ken Murray Award from the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation, which will be awarded at KWCF’s upcoming Chair’s reception on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

Local Indigenous leaders are also receiving national awards. Lori Campbell, WISC director, was recently recognized as one of the 2020 Women of Inspiration by the Universal Women’s Network two weeks ago.

Campbell wrote in an email that this national award for her work as an Indigenous leader was an honour, and that nominations in several other categories floored her.

“It tells me that I’m having an impact not only in the Indigenous community but as a leader in the broader community.”

Fitsum Areguy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record