“Meet Edmonton’s Okimaw Award Recipients – Celebrating Indigenous Men Making a Difference
Edmonton’s City Hall was a place for celebration this past Saturday as over a dozen men were honoured with Okimaw Awards for their outstanding contributions in various areas. From community service, mentorship, art, and politics, these men have made a significant impact on the community and their efforts are being recognized and celebrated.
One of the recipients, Curtis Cardinal, was the proud recipient of the ‘Love Award’ for his incredible work in supporting Edmonton’s homeless population. Through his catering business Tee Pee Treats, Cardinal provided over 6,000 meals to those in need in the inner city last year alone. His mission is simple – to feed people healthy food, soups, and bannock. “Just home-cooked meals that are for the people living in encampments, living in tents. I just felt there was a need. There are so many people out there that are just struggling to live,” said Cardinal. Having once lived on the street and battled his addictions, Cardinal finds pride in being able to inspire others to turn their lives around and extend a helping hand to those in need.
Janice Randhile, the founder of the Okimaw Awards, expressed that the awards are designed to recognize a man’s character and contributions rather than their accomplishments. This vision was to provide recognition similar to the Esquao Award, which honors Indigenous women, for men. “To see that people can change, people can heal, people can grow – It’s exactly what I wanted to see. The community coming out to support our men and that’s where the nominations come from,” Randhile stated.
A Life of Influence
One recipient, Francis Whiskeyjack, a residential school survivor and member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, received the Lifetime Journey Award. Throughout his life, Whiskeyjack has inspired and mentored youth, advocating for their needs, as well as keeping the Cree language alive. His tireless efforts earned him an honourary Doctor of Laws from the University of Alberta and will have a high school named after him as a symbol of honor and inspiration for young people. “These types of awards inspire young people- role models lead the way to showcase that it can be done,” Whiskeyjack reflected.
In conclusion, the Okimaw Awards not only highlight the accomplishments of these incredible men but the impact they have had, providing inspiration and hope for the future. Let their stories serve as a compelling reminder of the difference that can be made through dedication, compassion, and resilience. It is a celebration of community values and the spirit of giving back.”