This past Tuesday, the Institute for Change Leaders and the Layton Legacy held the first-ever Layton Indigenous Leadership Award Celebration at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto! The event was attended by ICL ED Olivia Chow, as well as Councillor Mike Layton, Chief Bob Chamberlin, Sarah Cunningham and MC’ed by Mike Perry. We’d like to thank everyone who joined us both in-person and online! If you missed the event and would like to view it, you can do so on our Youtube!
We’re thrilled to deliver the award to the inaugural recipient, Ellen Blais! Ellen works at the Association of Ontario Midwives as the Director of Indigenous Midwifery. For more than twenty years she has been working tirelessly with Indigenous mothers, families and children to improve their lives and their quality of pre and post-natal care. Taken from her birth mother as a baby herself, Ellen feels a strong personal connection to this work. She strongly believes that better care for Indigenous mothers and children is vital for a better future. Thank you so much to Ellen and the work of all Indigenous Midwives.
Watch the video below to learn more about Ellen's story and work!
A special congratulations to the two honourable mentions - Jess Housty and Jennifer Walkus.
Jess Housty is Executive Director of Qqs (Eyes) Projects Society, a Haíɫzaqv charitable non-profit focused on supporting our youth and families to thrive through community and cultural programming. She also works in community organizing, food systems resiliency, and decolonial philanthropy through a variety of consulting and voluntary positions within her community and in the wider world.
Jennifer Walkus is a Wuikinuxv scientist, well respected by her neighboring nations for her key work in ending the grizzly trophy hunt in 2017. Her research on food security for both humans and grizzly bears is guided by the Wuikinuxv Nation’s principle of ńàńakila – to watch over someone and look ahead for them; to be a guardian or a protector.
Thank you and congratulations again to all the Indigenous activists who made this award and celebration possible. It is our hope that the Layton Indigenous Leadership Award can continue to uplift and support the important ongoing Indigenous activism being done today.
Photos by Mitchel Raphael