The Rotary Club of Guelph has great pleasure in announcing Max Dewaele as the winner of the 2018 Youth Award at the annual “Turtle Island Heritage Festival” in Wellington County. The Award Certificate was accompanied by a $500 cheque from Rotary to help Max further his education.
The annual Turtle Island Heritage Festival celebrates Indigenous history and culture. The event is hosted by the Wellington County Museum and Archives in coordination with the Upper Grand District School Board, the Grand River Métis Council, and other representatives from the community.
Each April, the museum invites both high school and elementary school groups to spend a day at the museum participating in interesting and informative workshops. With about 300 students attending per day, this year’s festival was attended by some 1,200 local students over a four-day period.
A student Indigenous art exhibit was also part of the event this year.
Each year, the organizing committee of the Turtle Island Heritage Festival selectsf a student of Indigenous ancestry to receive Rotary’s annual Indigenous Youth Award for demonstrating Leadership qualities in the community and in the promotion of Indigenous culture.
Max Dewaele, this year’s Award Winner, is a grade 11 student attending Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute (GCVI). He has been actively engaged in the local Indigenous community since he was very young, beginning with attending Jan Sherman’s Spirit Connections Camp for several years. He has also attended many Indigenous workshops, including drum and shaker making, and assisted in the running of other workshops such as beading. Also, he has attended and participated in multiple sweat lodge ceremonies at Nancy Rowe’s lodge on New Credit First Nation.
Max has helped his mom run multiple Kairos Blanket Exercises, and assisted Grass Roots Catering in the preparation of Indigenous food for community feasts many times over the past three years. At his school, when Indigenous guests have come for class visits, he has made sure that classes knew and understood the correct protocols, such as how to give tobacco and why they are giving it. He has regularly assisted Arnie Henry with firekeeping for sweat lodge ceremonies at Nancy Rowe’s lodge so that he can learn about being a firekeeper.
“Overall, community is a fundamental value for Indigenous cultures, and for me that means participating in Indigenous community events whenever I can,” says Max.
The Rotary Club of Guelph is proud to honour exceptional students such as Max, and sincerely hopes he will one day become a Rotarian as he continues to live up to Rotary’s global motto of “Service Above Self”.