An Oilfields High School student has been awarded for aspiring to help others learn about her heritage.
Chloe Dixon, a Grade 11 student at Oilfields, was the 2016 recipient of the Aspire Southern Alberta Indigenous Youth Award earlier in November at Mount Royal University.
This award celebrates Indigenous youth who are making a difference in their communities, developing healthy solutions and growing into successful leaders and ambassadors.
Dixon defines it slightly different.
“It’s for inspiring other youth to do what they aren’t capable of – but they actually are,” she said. “Inspiring other youths that they can do what ever they want.”
The 16-year-old has been inspired to spread the word of the First Nations history.
Dixon was inspired by a recent trip to Banff for the Truth and Reconciliation summit.
“It meant a lot, I learned a lot there,” Dixon said. “That the non-indigenous people do want to learn about what happened in the past.
“How we are being treated unwell. It made me feel good, because it is helping to spread our culture across the province.”
Dixon, who is of Cree, Blackfoot and Stoney heritage, was inspired by her grandmother, Debbie Dixon of Eden Valley.
“My grandmother, told me stories and it inspired me to look at First Nations,” Dixon said.
Chloe has been a regular participant in the ‘Blanket exercise’ which sees students stand on blankets that are slowly taken away to reflect the erosion of the First Nations culture through the invasion of non-indigenous people, disease and, more recently, residential schools.
“It made me want to look beyond the blanket exercise and look more in depth to the heritage,” Dixon said.
“I was amazed at what we had been through as a nation.”
She was heartbroken when she viewed the video We Were Children that deals with residential schools.
“When I first watched it, I was kind of crying – it felt like I was in the movie and I could feel the pain of being taken away by your parents — being genocide by another culture,” Dixon said.
She has been to blanket ceremonies at Foothills schools in which she is the lone First Nations student in the room, but that is fine with her.
“Non-indigenous people have to know what we have been through,” Dixon said. “It is really important to show them what we have been through.”
She said students across the Foothills and especially at her Oilfields School have been more than accepting and open to hear her message.
Dixon is an active student at Oilfields, and played a key role in the schools FNMI film project, Truth and Reconciliation Through the Eyes of Our Youth last spring.
Darlene Cox, the Foothills School Division’s First Nations, Métis, Inuit success connector, nominated Dixon for the award.
“Chloe has really stepped up from a youth perspective in sharing the history of the First Nation people and trying to bridge the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people.”
Cox invited to Dixon to the recent commission in Banff.
“Chloe was there and able to share her experience, her opinion and where things are going in terms of reconciliation,” Dixon said. “She has taken that initiative to be a part of it. Anything I invite her to, she is onboard.
“To me she is a representative for the youth for truth and reconciliation and sharing with people the history of First Nations and that it is time to move forward as one.”
Cox has seen a spurt in Dixon since the two got to know one another about a little over a year ago.
“I have seen extensive growth in her since I got to know her – she just continues to grow and grow,” Cox said.
She received letters of support from former Oilfields principal Scott Carey and teacher Paul Rasporich for Dixon’s nomination.
Dixon said she thinks she will be attending conferences and speaking to youths with other award recipients in the future.