Young achievers hail from communities in Nunavut, Nunavik

Four Inuit among 2007's aboriginal role models


our Inuit are among the 12 national aboriginal role models for 2007: Gloria Kowtak from Rankin Inlet, Shawn Kuliktana from Kugluktuk, Charlie Tookaluk from Umiujaq and Vanessa Webb from Nain.

In Ottawa on June 21, National Aboriginal Day, the National Aboriginal Health Organization introduced the First Nations, Métis and Inuit role models.

During the next year, the role models, who were nominated by their peers for their achievements, will attend celebrations, school functions, workshops, and conferences where they'll share their success stories with other Aboriginal youth.

Posters and trading cards, which NAHO makes available to communities, feature each of the 12 role models.

Gloria Kowtak

In 2006, Gloria Kowtak, who is originally from Whale Cove, graduated with a Bachelor of Education from Nunavut Arctic College and McGill University and now teaches Inuktitut to Grade 1 students in Rankin Inlet.

Since 2005, Kowtak, 26, has been a fitness instructor and teaches aerobic classes in her spare time. She's also a member of her local volleyball team.

Kowtak has also travelled to Africa and Ottawa to perform throat singing and drum dancing. "Have confidence in yourself and create a positive impact," she says.

Shawn Kuliktana

Shawn Kuliktana, a pre-trades student in Kugluktuk, has a message for youth: "Be proud of your language, of your culture and of who you are."

At 17, Kuliktana is an outstanding student who picked up several awards at this year's end-of-school Grizzlies banquet. Kuliktana is also regular community volunteer, raising money for the community's Christmas Food Drive, organizing alcohol-free events and playing his guitar to raise money for charities.

Vanessa Webb

Vanessa Webb is a 16-year-old athlete who is actively involved in her community of Nain, working with Sikinik Niluituk, a local suicide prevention group, and the Nunatsiavut Rising Youth Council. An honour roll student, she participates in many sports and is team captain for the local female hockey team.

Charlie Tookaluk

Charlie Tookaluk, 21, from Umiujaq graduated from Kilutaaq School. Due to his deafness, Tookaluk has overcome many obstacles to get to where he is today, says NAHO. Frustrated by the lack of services for deaf students, Charlie quit high school for several years, but he returned in 2005 to complete his diploma.

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