Regina Leader-Post - October 1, 2007
TakingITGlobal's Aboriginal Youth Engagement Coordinator, Eriel Deranger, was profile in the Regina Leader-Post recently. She was awarded a $20,000 fellowship in research from the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation Global Youth Fellowship program.
$20,000 fellowship awarded for research
Elizabeth Huber, Regina Leader-Post
Ten years ago, Eriel Deranger discovered a desire for political commentary.
Since then she has participated in United Nations forums and worked for Shout magazine, Youth Service Canada, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and Taking it Global.
Now, she has added the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation Global Youth Fellowship winner to her resume.
Deranger, a 28-year-old Dene from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, was one of nine winners from across Canada of a $20,000 fellowship. The money is going towards furthering her research into the development of global youth policies and the inclusion of indigenous youth.
"Our indigenous youth or indigenous people tend to be sort of quarantined and dealt with within different sects of government," explained Deranger.
Deranger identified the pivotal moment in her life when she began to identify her need for change.
"I would have been about 18, doing survival camp in the Kananaskis. There was this guy from Peace River that was extremely racist," Deranger recalled Monday.
Eventually she decided enough was enough.
"I told him, 'You really need to stop because I can't deal with this anymore, it is really offensive to me.' ... It was this really heavy argument and I remember being so angry and so passionate about it."
In her current research, the countries she is focusing on are Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. All are developed countries that have what she called an "imposed aboriginal governing systems." For example, Canada's government has the governing body Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
"All four countries are having problems incorporating indigenous youth into the bigger picture," she said.
"We don't see a lot of aboriginal people in political seats ... It is happening more and more but not as high as it should be ... I attribute it to the fact that there is this fragmentation, this segregation of politics."
"(Deranger's) issue was one that we found particularly interesting and worthy of support ... In the interview she came across as being very confident and self-assured," said Patrick Johnston, president of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation.
The Global Youth Fellowship was developed as a way to recognize the work of Canadian youth in the international community.
"Our Global Youth Fellowship program enables young Canadians like Eriel to deepen their understanding of international policy issues of concern to Canada and to pursue sustainable solutions," said Johnston.
Deranger emphasized that her opinions belong to her and do not represent the foundation.
In May, Deranger participated in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues as a member of the United Nations Indigenous Youth Caucus.
"We submitted a set of recommendations to the permanent forum and the UN secretariat to have more indigenous youth inclusion in the process and to recognize the unique nature of indigenous youth issues," Deranger said.
Since then, it has been announced that in 2008 indigenous child and youth issues will have their own separate agenda item on the permanent forum agenda.
"There is a desire for change, I think there is problem on developing the best practices on how to really go about bringing the change," she said.
"The only way to make change is to really get into the system and look at the system, and how is the system working and analyse how you can make change ... By looking at it and asking, 'Given what I have, how can I make change?' "