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UWinnipeg Student Recognized: Tasha Spillett Wins Human Rights Youth Award

e-dition - December 15, 2006

At a luncheon celebrating International Human Rights Day, Maples Collegiate teacher Chuck Duboff (left) was presented with the Manitoba Human Rights Commitment Award; UWinnipeg Innovative Learning Centre Co-ordinator Kevin Chief (centre) gave the keynote address; and, UWinnipeg Education student Tasha Spillett was awarded the Sybil Shack Memorial Manitoba Human Rights Youth Award.

UWinnipeg Student Recognized:
Tasha Spillett Wins Human Rights Youth Award

By Ilana Simon

Ka Ni Kanichihk means "those who lead" in the Cree language.

It is also a fitting description for University of Winnipeg student Tasha Spillett. She was recently honoured with a human rights award presented by the Canadian Human Rights Commission,  Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties and the Manitoba Human Rights Commission at a luncheon celebrating International Human Rights Day December 8, 2006. 

Spillett, a first-year UWinnipeg Education student, received the Sybil Shack Memorial Manitoba Human Rights Youth Award for her volunteer work as a founder of United Against Racism Aboriginal Youth Circle, a program run out of Ka Ni Kanichihk, a local Aboriginal human services organization . 

She was cited for her outstanding record of involvement with human rights activities and her dedication to promoting equality and equity for all peoples. The Sybil Shack Memorial Manitoba Human Rights Youth Award acknowledges work that has an impact on the advancement of human rights as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom and human rights legislation.

Elimination of Racism

“I was very honoured and humbled and excited,” said 17-year-old Spillett of the award, modestly adding. “I think it was in recognition of all the work the Aboriginal Youth Circle does. As a founding member, I was recognized…I think it was reflective of all the work we did over the past three years.”

United Against Racism Aboriginal Youth Circle began in 2003, in Spillett’s words “to deal with some of the issues surrounding racism within our community and how racism manifests itself systemically within the media, judicial and education systems.”

The group works toward the elimination of racism and discrimination in society. It organizes many different initiatives for Aboriginal youth including workshops and training sessions on how to conduct anti-racism sessions in the community.

Human Rights Awareness among Youth

Kevin Chief, coordinator of UWinnipeg’s new Innovative Learning Centre and past Executive Director of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre, was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. Chief, a UWinnipeg alumnus and former Wesmen player, addressed the importance of developing human rights awareness in young people at an early age.

Spillett believes she will be able to make a difference with young people in her chosen career. She would like one day to teach history and English for one of the Tribal Councils or in Winnipeg’s inner city.

“Young people innately believe that all people are equal. As a teacher, it’s really important to give students opportunities to pursue human rights work,” said Spillet, who serves as cultural liaison on UWinnipeg’s Aboriginal Student Council. “I want to be a teacher because I never saw myself reflected in the classroom and I think it’s important for Aboriginal students to have a teacher from their own cultural or community perspective. Aboriginal students need to learn about our history, get a sense of our contemporary challenges and how to respond to and improve our communities.”

< Back to e-dition December 15, 2006 - Volume 24 Number 10