In February, Treaty 4 News introduced the first group of people we call “Ones to Watch”; they are people who doing some very interesting things. We can call them role models or we could just call them really cool people doing some really cool stuff. Here is the Part 2 of Treaty 4 News’s list of people to keep an eye on in 2015.

InfoRed

OTW Brad

Photo courtesy Brad Bellegarde.

InfoRed is kicking summer into high gear with the release of his latest cd Rediculous Stories.

InfoRed, aka Brad Bellegarde, a member of Little Black Bear First Nation, uses rap to send messages about issues that are close to him.

“For the last five years, I’ve been writing raps about our political situation as Indigenous people, and this new album is all Indigenous-based,” said Bellegarde.

The style has caught the attention of new fans, young and old.

“I’ve opened up the doors to a whole new demographic of listeners, people that never would have liked rap music before, people of all ages including elders. They’re really receptive to the message and they see it as a new way of storytelling,” he said.

Bellegarde also facilitates workshops in schools, helping kids to learn the art of rap. “Traditionally, stories were told in song, morals were told in song. I’m using that as a platform for my music, to teach youth about history, about our culture,” Bellegarde said.

He is also a fourth year university student, current president of the Student Association for the First Nations University of Canada’s Regina Campus, a Neechie Gear Role Model and was named one of CBC’s 40 under 40, a competition that showcased up and coming leaders of tomorrow.

 

Jolene Creely

OTW Creely

Photo courtesy Jolene Creely.

Jolene Creely is the reigning Miss FSIN, a former competitor in the Miss Teen Canada Pageant, and a graduating student at Balcarres Community School.

As Miss FSIN, she attends FSIN conferences, meetings and powwows.

“I’m having a great time being Miss FSIN. My role is to keep being a role model, and keep living a positive and healthy lifestyle,” said Creely.

She is involved in sports and doing community work with her home reserve, Okanese First Nation. Recently, she represented 74 Saskatchewan First Nations at the Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Before becoming Miss FSIN, Creely competed in the Miss Teen Canada pageant in Toronto. Though she wasn’t a finalist, the experience helped her in the Miss FSIN competition.

“I took all my public speaking skills, all my community work hours, and I used all that to my advantage to run for Miss FSIN,” said Creely.

“I think pageants are a good way for a young woman to express who she really is and build confidence in herself,” she said. “Especially as a First Nation person, you always have big support back home on your reserve and surrounding communities.”

These skills will help for the next step in her career. This fall, Creely starts university and wants to become a journalist.

“I’m really interested in journalism and being on TV. I really want to work with Creeson Agecoutay on Indigenous Circle,” said Creely, adding that he has been an inspiration for her career choice.

If history repeats itself, she may very well be a future host of Indigenous Circle.

 

Creeson Agecoutay

OTW Creeson

Creeson Agecoutay covers the annual Brain Injury Walk in Regina. Photo by Judy Bird.

Many people recognize Creeson Agecoutay as the host of Indigenous Circle; what people don’t know is that he foretold his future when he was still young.

“I grew up watching Nelson Bird on CTV and every Sunday, I used to have supper with my mom and we’d watch Indigenous Circle. I jokingly told my mom, ‘one day I’m going to do Nelson Bird’s job’. I forgot I said it, but my mom doesn’t let me forget it,” Agecoutay said.

Seeing another First Nations person on television was an inspiration for the Cowessess First Nation member. Years later while attending the First Nations University of Canada, a student counsellor suggested he try the Indian Communication Arts (INCA) program.

Agecoutay earned his INCA certificate, and a journalism degree from the University of Regina.

He started working at CTV Regina in 2008, and enjoys telling First Nations’ stories. “I like the fact that there is a sense of trust and understanding between me and whoever I’m talking to when I go into a First Nation. They know that I’m First Nation, there’s an immediate bond, and also a sense of pride.”

This summer, he will be out in the communities, gathering stories for the fall season of the show. He enjoys hosting the show, but also has his sites on new ventures. “It’s always been in the back of my mind to someday be a national reporter, and travel and see new places,” he said.

Agecoutay hopes to inspire others to follow in his footsteps. “There are a lot of First Nation stories that need to be told. I think the more First Nations people are in the media, the better.”

 

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Desarae Eashappie

OTW Desarae

Photo courtesy Desarae Eashappie.

Desarae Eashappie knows how life can change plans, but also knows how education can keep you on a good path.

Eashappie, a member of Carry the Kettle First Nation, was once a fashion model. She made a career move to Toronto, but learned that the business wasn’t all she had hoped it would be.

“It just focused so much on how I looked on the outside, and didn’t care about anything on the inside,” said Eashappie.

She moved home, and eventually enrolled in the First Nations University of Canada’s INCA program. She experienced the busy and hectic work of a journalist. “After having my first baby, that all changed for me. It was too busy for me as a mother, so I did the next best thing which was finish my INCA certificate and go for an English degree,” she said.

Her education path took a few more turns: she moved to Arizona with her partner so he could complete a course at the Golf Academy of America, and she also had her second child.  Back in Canada, she is now ready to focus on completing her degree.

“I’m eager to get it done and move on to the next step in my education. I’d like to work towards becoming a professor at the First Nations University,” she said.

Eashappie realizes the value of education, and instills that value in her children. “Education is so important and vital not just in succeeding as far as having a career, but in learning so much about life. I say that because it was only after I started going to university that I truly found myself. I found where my spirit belonged.”

 

AJ Scales

OTW Scales

AJ Scales (third from left) took home a bronze medal at a tournament in Las Vegas in May, 2015. Photo courtesy Complete Martial Arts and Fitness Inc.

AJ Scales grew up watching the sport that would become his passion: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

“I was watching UFC around 1993-94 and seeing Royce Gracie fighting. He was very impressive in the things he was able to do against bigger and stronger opponents,” said the George Gordon band member.

Scales started training in the sport with a friend, then found an instructor in Regina.

“That led me to travelling to Brazil, travelling around the world, competing and training in other gyms,” he said.

In 2007, he’d earned his purple belt, opened his own gym, Complete Martial Arts and Fitness, and began teaching others. Now he runs about 15 classes per week.

“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is such a passion of mine sometimes I don’t even find it to be work when I’m teaching,” he said. “I have students who are all getting to be advanced Brazilian jujitsu practitioners so those guys all keep me on my toes and allow me to keep my level up,” he said.

Now a First Degree Black Belt, he competes at least three times per year in major tournaments. In May, he brought home bronze in a major tournament in Las Vegas.

Scales loves to share the sport with youth. His gym held a kids’ tournament, and takes part in the CopaSask Tournament June 13 in Regina, and the Queen City tournament in October.

 

Amelia Badger

OTW Badger

Photo courtesy Amelia Badger.

Amelia Badger’s dream came true when she stepped in front of the crowd at the Gathering of Nations Powwow this spring to compete in the Miss Indian World Pageant.

“At age 5, I wanted to be Miss Indian World,” said the Kawacatoose band member. “I am so proud that I was actually able to do something that I have wanted to do ever since I was little.”

She didn’t win the title but remains proud of her achievement. “Not only was I representing myself, my family, my community but to me I was representing all of Saskatchewan especially within the Treaty 4 territory,” she said.

“From the Miss Indian World pageant, I gained the knowledge that I could actually speak to thousands of people, and have my voice heard. I also gained 20 other sisters,” she said.

Badger made a cradleboard as her talent for the competition, based on her own goal of becoming an educator.

“The cradleboard resembles our first classroom, so for me to bring the teachings and the story of the cradleboard was very important. Everything we learn within the first 12 months of our life is taught within a cradleboard,” she said.

Badger just completed her studies at the First Nations University of Canada in Education, and will convocate this fall.

Her hopes for her future are to combine her love of culture with education.  “I would like to do a masters and a PhD one day. I have the belief that I could combine culture and education and somehow make a difference especially within our youth. I believe that I can get it done.”

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