Chief of Canadian Cree Nation Leading Youth Leadership Development Mission to Israel

For Immediate Release — April 24, 2012

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – Ron Evans, Chief of the Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, will lead a Youth Leadership Development Mission to Israel at the end of this month (April 29 – May 6, 2012). Under the auspices of Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, the thirty young First Nations leaders will study Israeli culture and society, visit Christian and Jewish holy sites, study the Israeli immigrant absorption experience, and skate at Israel’s only full-sized hockey rink – located at the Canada Centre in Metulla. The group will also meet with the Galilee branch of Kav Hazinuk (“The Starting Line”) – an Israeli youth leadership development program funded by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.

“The objective of this trip is to help develop leaders among First Nations youth,” said Chief Ron Evans. “I visited Israel for the first time last year, and I was overwhelmingly inspired. The Jewish people are the historic, Indigenous people of Israel. For Canada’s First Nations, Israel’s story demonstrates how an ancient people can maintain their heritage while embracing the modern world – and in so doing, achieve self-determination.”

“We are hopeful that, by studying the Israeli experience, these highly motivated youth will return to their communities empowered with additional knowledge and leadership tools,” said Shelley Faintuch, Community Relations Director for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and Associate Director of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “The future of Canada’s First Nations depends on building the next generation of ambitious, dynamic, and innovative First Nations leaders. Our goal is to support this important project.”

Chief Evans was the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs for two successive terms. The mission program, which Chief Evans hopes to run for ten successive years, was built jointly with Shelley Faintuch. With the support of their families and the community, the First Nations youth conducted fundraising to support the trip, including through church events, auctions, hockey, golf and fishing tournaments, and a circus. They also received a grant from the Asper Foundation.

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