Mental health, racism, and resilience among topics discussed at fourth annual leaders workshop

Louise Bernice Halfe and Brett Enns wait on stage as post-secondary students find their seats before the “For Saskatchewan’s Next Generation of Leaders Workshop” begins. -- Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald

Hundreds of post-secondary students from Prince Albert and surrounding communities gathered at the EA Rawlinson Centre on Wednesday for hours of discussion and workshops on a variety of topics during the fourth “For Saskatchewan’s Next Generation of Leaders Workshop”.

Fourth-year First Nation University student and members of the Advisory Committee Nicole Gutka said she’s hoping her fellow students walk away with a heightened awareness that things like racism and mental health don’t discriminate.

“It’s around us and it’s alive,” said Gutka. “I hope as a community we can come together and stand united that we have a zero-tolerance policy towards any -isms.”

Speakers include Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation, Healthcare leader Brett Enns, three-time Juno winner Susan Aglukark, and Canada’s Poet Laureate from 2020 to 2022 Louise Bernice Halfe-Sky Dancer.

“I’ll be addressing resilience, but in story form,” explained Halfe on the stage of the Rawlinson during a quick interview with the Herald before the workshop started. “I’ll talk about the four quadrants within that story and about hope.”

She said that as new leaders and the next generation, she hopes that whatever the students take from their stories they can implement in their lives going forward.

Enns spoke about mental health and the impacts of it both globally and locally. During an interview, he mentioned that it’s important the students are educated about the topic before they go off into their future careers.

“I hope that they get an understanding of mental health, not only in their own lives but in the lives of their fellow students and communities,” said Enns. “So, as they go forward, they make a difference in this world.”

Local students, faculty, and staff were joined by special guests, senior youth from northern Saskatchewan, for an afternoon of engagement from some of Canada’s top speakers, free swag bags and tons of chances to win prizes, all courtesy of workshop sponsors — University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, SUNTEP, University of Regina, Sask. Polytechnic, Gabriel Dumont Institute, First Nations University of Canada, and Saskatchewan Health Authority.