Roxy Lewis: A True Aboriginal Ambassador
by Tracy Stefanucci Photo by Myungsook Lee
Although overcoming shyness was a key motivating factor for joining the Aboriginal Youth Ambassador Program, twenty-four year old Roxy Lewis has spoken to over fifteen thousand people in the past year alone at the Squamish Lílwat Cultural Centre in Whistler. She speaks with a moving combination
of strength, openness and humility, asserting herself as a true Ambassador for the aboriginal community.
Roxy Lewis commutes an hour each day to work as an Aboriginal Youth Ambassador at the Squamish Lílwat Cultural Centre, in order to be a leader. ¡°My community is calling upon me to do a lot more work, especially the more I participate within this role in the Aboriginal Youth Ambassadors. They¡¯re calling upon me to participate in a lot of things, especially with the Olympics coming up,¡± says Lewis.
The job we have is a big role, as we¡¯re representing our Nation members and sharing culture, so we need to hold ourselves in a good way.¡±
According to Lewis, AYAP¡¯s main goal is ¡°to get our youth back out there on the land, because not as many of us, compared to the past, know much about our land anymore. [Or about] our territory, our language, and our culture from weaving with either inner-cedar bark, wool or cedar root; to carving paddles, canoes, house posts.¡±
Lewis was raised with Squamish Nation culture since she was seven. She was surprised to discover just how much cultural information she already knew when she entered the program in 2004, compared to some of the other participants. While she is forward-looking, she also recognizes that the abuse and cultural suppression that her parents¡¯ generation faced in residential schools is largely responsible for this gap in cultural knowledge.
¡°My family doesn¡¯t really talk about the past, so once they do I¡¯m like a sponge and constantly ask questions,¡± says Lewis.
Our elders were our teachers and we were raised by our entire communities. We are all one family. Because of residential school experience, they really didn¡¯t approve or care if I went to school. I know definitely on my mother¡¯s side that my auntie went to residential school, but I don¡¯t know how it affected her. They managed to come and get my auntie, but they hid my mother. She was the baby of the family, so she was lucky enough not to experience
With the help of AYAP, Lewis¡¯s curious initiative is helping to fill this gap. ¡°We¡¯re still here, we¡¯re still alive, we still have our culture. We did not live in igloos or teepees. We did not have totem poles, we had house posts and welcome figures,¡± she says.
After participating in AYAP for five years, both as a Junior and Senior Ambassador, Lewis hopes to ¡°share [what she has learned] with everyone else, because that¡¯s just the way of our culture, to share. We still have our culture. We shouldn¡¯t be afraid of it at all. Just embrace it.¡±
In addition to working as a mentor for AYAP, Lewis is also team leader for admissions at the centre and in her spare time is involved in an aboriginal dance group.
DIVERSE 5th Issue
We are pleased to announce that DIVERSE 5th issue, Summer 2011 has been released.
12 Diversity in Canadian Workplaces What are the obstacles to a better form of ¡°diversity¡± in the workplace?
- Open Door Group
- BC Workplace Diversity Inclusion Awards
6 BC¡¯s Diversity through 30 portraits
2 ThePower of Exchange A Historic Collaboration between Germany¡¯s
Premiere Art Collections and Canada¡¯s First Nations
28 Ezra Kwizera Born in Uganda to Rwandese refugee parents, Canadian Musician and genocide survivor speaks on the art of forgiveness and of adapting to Canadian culture
42 Dana Claxton
The Mustang Suite: Questioning mobility, freedom and autonomy
24 Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Vancouver, BC: The Diversity of Canada
38 Denise Brillon Breaking barriers in the fashion world
32 Pysanky¡¯s Resurgence
Joan Brander¡¯s contribution to the renaissance in traditional
Ukrainian egg art
10 Publisher¡¯s Note
27 Benefits of being a bilingual writer
31 Canadians come in all differences
NEWS & INFORMATIONS
35 News Briefs on Multiculturalism
36 Publisher¡¯s Picks
You Can Order Here.