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Recognition awards raise profile of Aboriginal accomplishments

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By Roy Pogorzelski Sweetgrass Writer FORT MCMURRAY







Last month, Jane Woodward was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award through the Regional Aboriginal Recognition Award, which recognizes Aboriginal people in Fort McMurray and surrounding areas who have worked for the betterment of Aboriginal people and culture.

 “She is a true role model for this community and we are proud to honor her with this award,” said Nora Flett, volunteer coordinator and nomination chair for RARA.
Woodward is of Cree-Dene-Métis ancestry and has been recognized for her achievements, hard work and dedication to the Aboriginal community. She  has been a part of the Fort McMurray community for many years, having seen a town of 1,200 in the 1950s grow into the city it is today.

Woodward has committed herself to fashioning a career promoting Aboriginal culture through various media positions, dedicating her life to the betterment of the Aboriginal community and living a healthy and vibrant lifestyle.

Woodward is one of the many recipients of  RARA, which was started in 1988.

 “There were a lot of stereo-types and misconceptions about Aboriginal people in Fort McMurray, especially with the constant movement of people working for the oil companies, therefore a need to recognize, celebrate and honour role models was necessary to start breaking down these barriers,” said Flett.

Community collaboration and cultural competency fits in with R.A.R.A’s vision of “bestowing an appreciation for the achievement of Aboriginal people…by having more people and institutions participating in R.A.R.A’s positive impact.”

Potential award recipients are nominated by members of the community based on accomplishments, talents and contributions.

A selection committee is set up by R.A.R.A that is representative of all the communities in the region, the nomination forms are reviewed and evaluated using a highly regarded Kepner-Tregoe Decision Analysis Method.  This method is a numerical process that outlines objectives, assesses alternatives and helps to decide an award winner.

Flett mentions that the awards cover a variety of areas, so as to include as many categories for people to be recognized “initially it was only for adults, but has recently expanded to include youth, such as our Junior Achiever’s category, which instills a sense of pride in the recipients.”

R.A.R.A is a motivational event for Aboriginal members in the northern communities.  The entire community including the corporate community, Aboriginal business, municipal government, post-secondary institutions and the entire community have all played a large role by supporting, presenting and recognizing the talented Aboriginal individuals in their community.

This year’s recipients in the 15 categories are: Jim Cardinal, Male Citizen of the Year; Claudia Simpson Female Citizen of the Year; Leonard Whiting Male Youth of the Year; Brittany McKenzie and Lakisha Black Female Youth of the Year; Margo Vermillion Leadership; Hazel Derange Elder; Kayla Whitford Outstanding Adult Student; Brandon Sitko Outstanding Athlete; Margaret Simpson Volunteer; Darren Mercredi Culture; Johnny Courtoreille Trapper; Mike Deranger Entrepreneur of the Year; Treasure Cooper Arts; and Logan McKenize, Lawless Warwara, Ethan Adby, Alexis Boucher, Kayden Tuccaro, Sinay Kennedy, Dylan Thomas-Bouchier, Kiarra Skyrpan, Ryan Umperville and Calab Snowbird Alexander for Junior Achievement.