The USAY Changemaker Awards is an annual ceremony that shines a spotlight on the remarkable achievements of Indigenous leaders and community members who have played pivotal roles in instigating positive transformations within their communities. This event goes beyond recognition; it serves as a platform to share and celebrate the inspiring stories of those individuals who have made a lasting impact.
Nominations for Changemakers come directly from the community, ensuring that the voices and choices of those who are intimately connected to the work being done are heard. A dedicated committee of respected Indigenous leaders carefully evaluates the nominees and selects the deserving winners, adding a layer of authenticity and community involvement to the entire process.
Central to the success of this initiative is the support from corporate sponsors, who contribute vital resources to fund the event. Their involvement reflects a commitment to uplifting Indigenous voices and fostering positive change. By participating in the USAY Changemaker Awards, you not only join in the celebration of these extraordinary individuals but also contribute to the continued success and growth of this impactful community-driven initiative.
Take an active role in shaping the narrative of positive change within Indigenous communities by getting involved today. Whether through nominations, sponsorship, or attendance, you can be a part of an event that honors and amplifies the transformative efforts of Indigenous leaders and community members. Join us for an unforgettable experience that highlights the power of collective action and the resilience of Indigenous communities making a difference. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or get involved.
2023 CHANGEMAKER AWARDS
Johnathon Red Gun serves as the Disability Employment Coordinator for Community Futures Treaty Seven, overseeing the southern Indigenous Skills Employment Strategy. In this role, he allocates resources to sub-agreement holders in Treaty 7 territories, supporting urban contracts in Calgary, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge. The focus is on providing employment and economic opportunities for First Nations individuals, including those with disabilities. Aapaiksi’konnista, meaning ‘Weasel White Calf’ in Blackfoot, has a background in social work and judicial roles, advocating for First Nations people impacted by the Residential School legacy. He has played advisory roles in disability service delivery partnerships, educational institutions, and mainstream employment agencies, fostering relationships with businesses in various sectors. Aapaiksi’konnista’s extensive involvement in spiritual life and traditional practices, including his contributions to repatriation efforts, adds a cultural dimension to his multifaceted role.
Sarah Good Medicine is a Hip Hop Emcee and Deejay. She’s mixed Cree, Métis and Chippewa and believes in being a good Aunty for her community in Mohkinstsis. She feels that using her medicine (gifts) is why she, and all human beings are here, she says, “to use our medicine”.
Teigan Smith, a member of the Piikani First Nation, currently holds the position of South Indigenous Youth Coordinator for YMCA Calgary, Indigenous Programs. Over the past nine years, Teigan has passionately shared cultural knowledge, leadership, and teachings with Indigenous youth, starting as a YMCA Indigenous Summer Camp Counsellor in 2016. In his current role, Teigan develops lesson plans and facilitates the YMCA Brave Dogs Clan (HON) programs for Indigenous youth in CBE schools. He advocates for and amplifies youth voices, creating ethical safe spaces and ensuring support for success, especially in education. Teigan, a tipi owner at YMCA Calgary Child Development Centre, honors traditional protocols and shares cultural awareness through land-based teachings and Indigenous games. As a positive role model, he inspires Indigenous youth to persevere and embrace their potential for leadership and success.
Argintina Hailey-Lawrence is a Two-Spirit member of the Iyarhe Nakoda First Nation and a notable drag performer with a 22-year career. She has held various titles and accomplishments, including being crowned Legacy Two Spirit Princess and Ms. Gay Calgary. Argintina has also worked to include Two-Spirit Drag and IndigiQueer Artists in major drag events and was instrumental in bringing Pride Celebrations to her homeland, the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, with the annual Morley Two Spirit Pride.
Monique is a highly experienced professional with over 15 years in cross-cultural communication and Indigenous relations. She has a diverse background, having worked in urban Indigenous spaces, business, and decolonized funding models. Monique has taught at various academic institutions, focusing on Indigenous studies. Recently, she joined BHP as the Principal of Indigenous Engagement, Strategy, and Advocacy for North America. Her role involves developing an Indigenous Partnerships Plan for Canada and supporting exploration and legacy assets teams. Monique’s passion lies in working with Indigenous Elders, youth, and her own family, bringing a unique perspective to her endeavours.
Sam uses they/them pronouns and is a Two-Spirit Sahtu Dene person whose maternal family is from the Northwest Territories. Sam’s paternal family is Acadian Métis and a mix of other european ancestry. Sam was born and raised in Calgary and has been very involved with the local Indigenous community of Treaty 7 and Calgary area. Sam is very interested in electrical and construction. Sam is also a published author of a CBC First Person article. They were also a panelist for the Forward Summit in the spring of 2023, and they are very active in programs with USAY. They are a strong advocate for Indigenous and Two-Spirit rights.
Marsha Hanson, a Plains Cree from Muskoday First Nation, overcame the challenges of the 60’s Scoop and found her calling at Closer to Home (CTH) in 2011. Initially at Pekewe House, she later joined the Domestic Conflict Resolution Team, aiding families dealing with domestic violence. Since 2016, Marsha has been the Program Coordinator for Indigenous Services and Pekewe Elder, guiding individuals on their Indigenous journey and addressing intergenerational trauma. Her dream of hosting a traditional Powwow came true with the ‘All My Relations Healing Powwow’ in May 2023, uniting communities. Marsha’s dedication earned her prestigious awards, including Closer to Home’s Practitioner of the Year and the International Practitioner of the Year from the Teaching Family Association.
Angel Lawrence, a Native of Calgary, Alberta, was raised by his mother alongside his sister and brother. Passionate about photography, video editing, and content creation, Angel has built a substantial following on TikTok, where he shares his creative works. His talent and dedication have earned him recognition in the form of a grant from the City of Calgary’s Community Social Network for his impactful traditional hand game project. In addition to his artistic pursuits, Angel is committed to leading a sober lifestyle and actively advocates for the principles of the Red Road.
Dr. Reg and Rose Crowshoe
Reg Crowshoe and Rose Crowshoe are both members of the Piikani Nation with distinguished educational backgrounds and notable achievements. Reg Crowshoe served as the former Chief of the Piikani Nation and regularly lectures at academic institutions, while Rose Crowshoe worked in finance for the Piikani Administration and conducted research for Peigan Child & Family Services. They are both honored Blackfoot Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers, valued advisors for various committees, and dedicated to working with Elders, youth, and the Elders’ Knowledge Circle. They have also been honored with the Order of Canada and a lifetime achievement award from the City of Calgary.
Savannah is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta with family roots coming from The Red River Settlement, St. Paul des Métis, and Northern Alberta. Her family names are Callihoo, Beauregard, Ouellette, Bellerose, and Marcellais. Savannah speaks proudly of her roots and encourages her Indigenous students to know and take pride in their culture. Earning a bachelor’s degrees in both ecology and education, Savannah went on to pursue her passions- working at the University of Calgary Kananaskis Field Station teaching biology to grade 7-12 students. Together with Exshaw School and Stoney Elders, she developed a unique curriculum which imparts traditional knowledge while teaching the biology behind the how and why behind the traditional way of doing. She also developed and teaches BIOL 212 – Biological Ways of Thinking, a course included in the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Pathway Program.