MÃ©tis youth are using sports as a platform to spread awareness about Indigenous issues while creating a space for Indigenous youth to â€œget up and riseâ€ to explore and celebrate their identity and culture.
While attending high school, Tracie LÃ©ost learned that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. An Indigenous studies assignment and a personal challenge would carry her on a journey that would shed light on a deliberate human-rights issue and change the course of history in Canada. As a MÃ©tisâ€”a distinct Indigenous people recognized by the federal governmentâ€”LÃ©ost grew up embracing her Indigenous culture and identity, despite being raised in a predominantly white neighbourhood in Manitoba, resulting in a sense of never fitting in. However, when LÃ©ost was in grade ten, she participated as a runner in the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). There, LÃ©ost recalls her first experience being in a space supportive of her Indigenous identity and talent, â€œit was really empoweringâ€¦I always say, â€˜thatâ€™s where that seed was planted.â€™â€™â€™ Her participation in NAIG gave LÃ©ost the courage to explore more of her Indigenous history and culture.
Being one of only a handful of Indigenous students at her school, she often felt an invisible barrier between herself and peers. With her new-found confidence, LÃ©ost enrolled in an Indigenous studies course. After completing an assignment shedding light on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited (MMIWG2S), LÃ©ost was shocked to learn the situation was not a priority for the federal governmentâ€”over 4,000 women and girls since 1980. She didnâ€™t understand why more wasnâ€™t being done, her teacher responded with, â€œyou have the ability and voice to make a change, so why donâ€™t you?â€ Those words lit a fire within LÃ©ost, shifting gears from education to advocacy and awareness.
Today, LÃ©ostâ€™s newest venture is supporting other Indigenous youth by creating spaces where they belong. â€œWaanishka,â€ which is a Michif command for â€œget up and rise,â€ because, â€œthereâ€™s nowhere to go but up from here,â€ LÃ©ost explains. This non-profit seeks to create safe space while uplifting the rise of Indigenous youth, Canadaâ€™s youngest and fastest growing demographic.
For her tireless efforts, sheâ€™s been awarded both the Order of Gabriel Dumont, the MÃ©tis Nations highest honour bestowed upon a civilian, and the Indspire Award, the highest honor the Indigenous community bestows upon its own people. On her accomplishments, LÃ©ost explains, â€œI want to do everything that my people never could, and if that means walking with people, or creating a new path and trailblazing, so be it, but I donâ€™t want anyone who comes after me to feel like they cannot do something or that these are spaces they do not belong in.â€ She continues to coach and assist others in creating safe spaces to uplift Indigenous youth.