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Northern College graduate honoured by the province

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A Northern College graduate is leaving her post-secondary career with a pretty big honour: she's the recipient of the 2023 Premier's Award as a recent graduate.

A member of the Attawapiskat First Nation, Christina Kioke is program manager with the Omushkego Six Seasons Youth Program in Timmins.

Kioke is the first person to lead a team of 14 staff who will offer tools and opportunities for Indigenous youth to become successful leaders.

She advocates for the better treatment and understanding of Indigenous youth from First Nation communities who attend high schools in urban centres.

"What happens a lot of the time is given the resources that are lacking within some of the northern communities within the First Nations, we see a lot of youth head to urban centres so they can participate in high school, in college, in university,” Kioke said.

When that happens, she said they are removed from their community and some of their cultural and traditional practices.

“So what Muskegowuk council found when they did their peoples inquiry into the suicide pandemic is that there were these gaps within the cultural area,” Kioke said.

“Using and learning the traditional languages, whether that's Cree or Ojibwe or whatever that may be, so what we wanted to see within our urban centres is providing our youth with that opportunity so that they can increase their resilience so they can move forward and be successful."

Kioke attended the awards ceremony with her daughter. She said she's proud of the accomplishment and that she was able to pursue post-secondary education and able to return to her studies in her mid-30s.

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