Dene Woman Wins Youth Activist Award for Preserving Aboriginal Culture

Kiera Kolson, part Gwich’in and Tso’Tine Dene—two First Nations from Canada’s North—was recently awarded the Jonathon Solomon Youth Activist Award by the Gwich’in Steering Committee, reported CBC News.

The international award recognizes youth who advocate aboriginal rights.

“Throughout Denendeh, we have seven different tribes, individual nations, who have their own culture, their stories, their language, and I think right now there hasn’t been enough concentration on preserving that identity for the generations to come after us,” Kolson, 28, told CBC News.

This is why Kolson received the award.

“She did that trek to the North Pole on skis and that really brought a lot of media attention and that stood out to us, so we really wanted to honor her for utilizing her voice and for taking that stand,” Princess Lucaj, the Executive Director with the Gwich’in Steering Committee, told CBC.

Kolson was one of four young people who trekked to the North Pole in April 2013. The team lowered a flag to the seabed, attached to the flag was a capsule with more than two and a half million signatures calling for a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the pole.

“My connection to the north is that I am from the north,” Kolson said in a video produced by Green Peace about the trek. “I’m hoping that by being involved I’m able to provide a voice back to the land and the environment, because we are the land and the land is of us.”

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