Mrs. Universe 2015 and The Amazing Race Canada contestant Ashley Callingbull of the Enoch Cree Nation will be among the entertainers at the 2017 Indspire Awards gala on March 24 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
The 13 Indspire Awards recipients, including Doreen Spence and Josh Butcher from Alberta, will be celebrated by more than 1,700 ceremony attendees, including 500 Indigenous youth from across Canada.
Governor General David Johnston will also be delivering an address.
Spence, from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, is one of two recipients of the Culture, Heritage, and Spirituality award. Now residing in Calgary, Spence has been active in human rights provincially and internationally.
Among her many accomplishments, the Cree Elder was invited to sit as a committee member on the working group that developed the draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Butcher, the Métis youth award winner, is a graduate of Austin O’Brien High School in Edmonton. He is now completing his third year in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.
Throughout his time at U of S, Butcher has been an active volunteer, with added occasional shifts at a medical clinic that serves mostly Indigenous people; advocating for both children with disabilities and LGBTQ2 athletes; and creating ‘Athlete Allies’, a group within Huskie Athletics with the goal of promoting respect and inclusivity for LGBTQ2 athletes.
“In 2017 Canadians will mark 150 years of confederation. It is fitting that we honour the contributions and role of Indigenous peoples and look forward to the future we will build together by recognizing the life journey and accomplishments of 13 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis visionaries, activists, and role models, who have – with passion, courage and tenacity – converted their gifts, energies and determination into achievement," said Roberta Jamieson, president and CEO of Indspire,
Jamieson is also an executive producer of the Indspire Awards.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, who will also be attending the ceremony, called the award winners “an inspiration to all Canadians – especially youth –from coast to coast to coast.”
Others who will be honored are Cece Hodgson-McCauley in the Politics category, Duncan McCue in Public Services, Heather Kashman in Sports, Jan Kahehti:io Longboat in Culture, Heritage and Spirituality, Kimberly R. Murray in Law and Justice, Maatalii Okalik, Youth Recipient, Nathan Matthew, Education, Phillip “Jerry” Asp, Senator Murray Sinclair, Tekatsi:tsia’kwa Katsi Cook in Health and Thomas Dymond, Youth Recipient.