Trent University’s alumna Teyotsihstokwáthe Dakota Brant ‘06 was awarded the Special Youth Award in the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards (NAAA) in Edmonton on March 11, 2011, for being an Aboriginal Canadian who has made a profound impact on her community, across Canada and worldwide.
As the special youth award recipient, Ms. Brant received the only cash award of $10,000 from the NAAA.
Among the first graduates of the Indigenous Environmental Studies (IES) degree program at Trent University Ms. Brant is the first to graduate with a specialization in the Mohawk Language Program.
“Trent University’s IES program is the first door that has been opened in the world of academia that seeks a mutual understanding of what the world needs from us,” Ms. Brant said. “My time at Trent has given me an opportunity to step back from the issues we have faced: residential schools, land claims, treaty rights, cultural and linguistic degradation … at Trent I was able to engage closely with knowledgeable people who taught me to deal with these issues not in anger, but as a human being put here by the Creator. I now have the knowledge and the tools.”
During her time at Trent, Dakota served as vice-president of the Trent University Native Association (TUNA) and as Indigenous student commissioner with the Trent Central Students’ Association (TCSA). Ms. Brant will be recognized with a Young Leader Award by the Trent University Alumni Association in May, 2011.
Ms. Brant was crowned Miss Indian World at the Gathering of the Nations, in Albuquerque, New Mexico in April 2010. She is the first Mohawk woman to win the title in which she now represents Indigenous people worldwide as a cultural ambassador of goodwill.
Born in 1987, Ms. Brant is of the Mohawk Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. As a teenager, she became a journalist in her community, reporting on events during the Caledonia land claims crisis from her local radio station. In 2005 she served as Miss Six Nations and travelled to Europe with her Excellency Michelle Jean, Governor General of Canada on the Aboriginal Spiritual Journey (ASJ). At the age of 18 she was recognized as a Youth Aboriginal Woman in Leadership by the Women in Leadership Foundation and as a Miracle Maker of the CIBC World Markets Miracle Makers. She is currently a firefighter with the Six Nations Fire Department, a columnist for the Turtle Island News, and one of the youngest teachers of the Mohawk language, instructing youth in grades one through eight.
“Every year the jury selects an extraordinary group of recipients who reveal such outstanding talent and dedicated service,” said Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. “I know that by honouring their achievement we will continue to inspire many others waiting to demonstrate their potential - that’s why the work of the Foundation in providing bursaries to First Nations, Inuit and Métis students is so essential.”
The National Aboriginal Achievement Awards (NAAA) were established to encourage and celebrate excellence in the Aboriginal community. NAAF created the Awards in 1993, in conjunction with the United Nation’s International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The Awards recognize the outstanding career achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, in diverse occupations. Now entering their seventeenth year, these Awards have become a Canadian institution.
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011.