It is with great pleasure that the United Nations Association of Canada presents Ta’Kaiya Blaney as the 2014 winner of the John Gibbard Memorial Award. Ta’Kaiya is a Sliammon First Nations youth who is devoted to raising awareness about environmental issues and indigenous rights.
At 13 years old, Ta’Kaiya is already a veteran of international affairs. She is the youngest indigenous person to give an intervention at the United Nations in New York City. She has spoken at the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples and she was a speaker, singer and panelist at several UN Earth Summit Rio +20 events. She proposed the idea of an Indigenous Children’s Fund at the United Nations and has spoken out against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, taking her concerns directly to the C.E.O.
Ta’Kaiya pursues her activism through song, speech and art. Her song “Shallow Waters” highlights concern about oil spills off of the British Columbia coast, and she continues to produce music and art to raise awareness about global challenges. She challenges all of us to pay greater attention to our planet and to learn from indigenous culture and indeed from our youth. As she states on her website:
“In my culture it’s a fact, and an understanding of life, that everything is connected, and we were put on this earth to be stewards and caretakers of the environment. In my culture, it’s a teaching to do more than connect the dots, to see the picture as a whole. I feel that advocating, and speaking at mere conferences isn’t enough. Actions speak louder than words.”
Ta’Kaiya will be presented with the John Gibbard award as part of the 11:00 am service on Sunday, October 26th at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 949 W. 49th Ave, at Oak Street. Feel free to join us in honouring this outstanding youth.