Collage of 10 portrait photos, each one is of an Indigenous Role Model for 2024 2024 Indigenous Role Models

Ten Youth Announced as 2024 Indigenous Role Models

March 1, 2024

Ten outstanding Grade 12 Indigenous students from the Abbotsford School District have been announced as this year's Indigenous Role Models. Following a rigorous review process conducted in December 2023, the Indigenous Education Advisory Committee considered applications from a pool of over 200 eligible students. The chosen students have distinguished themselves through their deep cultural connections, exemplary leadership, and dedicated service in their schools and broader communities. 

“We were excited to see so many applicants for consideration this year, which exemplifies the passion and dedication of Indigenous youth today,” said Allison Gardner, District Vice Principal of Indigenous Education. “These ten selected role models are role models not only for their peers but also for the adults around them and future youth. They will be stood up in the Semá:th First Nation Longhouse for their work, and I hope they are full of pride."

The Abbotsford School District and the Mamele’awt Indigenous Education Centre extend heartfelt congratulations to these exemplary Indigenous Role Models, who stand as pillars of motivation and cultural pride within the community:

Emily Silver-Douglas (Semá:th First Nation & Cheam First Nation) 
Yale Secondary School
Through paddling, Emily is connected with her culture and has achieved significant accomplishments, including representing Team Canada in World Sprints and excelling in Halq’eméylem contests. She is committed to giving back to her community through volunteering and peer tutoring, and aspires to study Indigenous-based courses at UBC with an interest in pursuing a career in Social Work.

Chiemela Anumba (Cree First Nation)
Yale Secondary School
She takes pride in her Cree heritage and has been actively involved in various activities, including participating in the 2023 North American Indigenous Games and contributing to Truth and Reconciliation Day initiatives. As a member of the Indigenous Leaders and Allies of Yale, she supports Elders and mentors students while also excelling in academics and sports. After high school, she hopes to pursue the Indigenous Teacher Education Program (NITEP) at UBC.

Meishon Racette (Haida Nation)
Yale Secondary School
Raised in the Haida Gwaii culture, Meishon takes pride in learning traditional practices and contributing to his community through activities like carving, traditional harvest, and distributing food with his grandfather. With a strong background in leadership and cultural education, including achieving academic milestones and excelling in sports, Meishon aspires to study business or computer engineering at UVIC, aiming to blend his entrepreneurial spirit with youth programs in Haida Gwaii.

Brooke Hayden (Skwah First Nation)
Yale Secondary School
She felt a deep connection to her family and culture after attending an honouring ceremony for Elders who attended residential school. Actively involved in her school's Indigenous community, Brooke participated in various activities, including the Inspire Conference in Edmonton and volunteering at the Semá:th First Nation Longhouse. Aspiring to become an Occupational Therapist, she plans to pursue a biology program at UBC or SFU, followed by a Master's in Occupational Therapy at UBC.

Ian Silver (Semá:th First Nation, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Musqueam Indian Band, & Sts’ailes)
Yale Secondary School
After the Covid pandemic, Ian immersed himself more deeply in his culture, participating in canoe racing with his Uncle Derek Silver and engaging in cultural activities with his father. Through the carpentry program, he gained confidence and leadership skills, and he has reconnected with his culture, learning and teaching the Halq’eméylem language. Ian aspires to pursue a career in the Carpentry Trade, aiming for his Red Seal Certification while continuing to embrace and share his cultural heritage.

Cadence Norton (Gitxsan)
Robert Bateman Secondary School
Cadence's knowledge of Indigenous peoples was initially shaped by her school, as her grandmother, a residential school survivor, had hidden her Indigenous ancestry. Through mentorship, Cadence learned traditional harvesting and used her artwork to raise awareness of issues like the 60s-Scoop and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Recognized for her leadership and work ethic, she completed the Junior Police Academy and maintained honour-roll status. She plans to study criminal justice at UFV, aspiring to become a police officer with the Abbotsford Police Department, focusing on youth.

Orenda Hackaray (Mathxwí First Nation)
Robert Bateman Secondary School
Orenda has embraced her Indigenous identity through learning Halq’eméylem, volunteering in beading instruction, and contributing to community events. Her artwork, which reflects her Indigenous heritage, won the Abbotsford School District Orange T-shirt design contest, and she collaborated on a legacy project to honour the lost Indigenous children of the residential school system. Orenda aspires to become an Indigenous Teacher through post-secondary education at SFU, UBC, or UFV.

Louis Calhoun (Haisla Nation)
Abbotsford Senior Secondary School

At six years old, Louis began exploring his Indigenous culture and has since engaged in drum groups, medicine circles, powwows, weaving, and canoe trips. He has learned cultural teachings, volunteered for various organizations, and embraced the Seven Sacred Teachings, which have boosted his confidence and engagement. Passionate about expressing his Indigenous culture through art, particularly beading, Louis aims to pursue this interest long-term and plans a road trip to Kitimat with his sister to connect with their Haisla Nation family.

Jessi Crouch (Métis)
W.J. Mouat Secondary School
Jessi has embraced learning through school and Indigenous programs. As a prominent figure in W.J Mouat's Thrive leadership, she organized the first annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and 2 Spirited People assembly, contributing to the education of students and supporting the Moose Hide campaign. Jessi aspires to become a Paramedic or Firefighter, with plans to attend the Junior Fire Academy and pursue a 5-year journey to become a Critical Care Paramedic.

CJ Pursley (Gitanmaax Band)
W.J. Mouat Secondary School
CJ has embraced her culture and leadership opportunities through Thrive, attending various ceremonies and raising awareness of issues in her school. She takes pride in volunteering to help Indigenous students with homework and excels in mathematics and sciences. As she approaches her final year of high school, CJ is actively involved in extracurricular activities and plans to study economics with a minor in Indigenous studies at UBC.

About the Abbotsford School District’s Indigenous Role Models Program
In 2002, the Abbotsford School District’s Indigenous Role Models Program was established as a means to celebrate Indigenous graduates who have a purposeful plan beyond graduation. These students are recognized for connecting to their culture, leadership, service in their schools and communities, and for their aspirations towards future goals. To date, approximately 68 students from the school district have been recognized in this program.