Once a week for the month of April, we will be showcasing each of our winning 2021 Métis Youth Role Models. Métis Youth British Columbia (MYBC) announced five Métis Youth Role Models, who were identified as outstanding youths in their communities. Métis role models promote healthy lifestyles, Métis culture and awareness; strengthen Métis identity and participate actively in their community.
This week, we are showcasing Gabriel Shepherd. His nominator wrote to MYBC:
Today I write to nominate Gabriel Shepherd for the Métis Youth Role Model program. As the President of the Golden Ears Métis Society, I have had the opportunity to see Gabriel’s impact in our community over the past decade or so, and his growth has been great to watch.
Gabriel has had the good fortune to be raised in his culture and he has always been an active member of the community. On countless occasions, Gabriel has assisted at community gatherings and events. He has also acted as our community’s “Junior Youth Representative” given that he was too young to act as a community youth representative. He has worked with our past couple of Youth Representatives included running activities directed to our younger youth at our Christmas and other gatherings.
What really stands out is Gabriel’s incredible initiative and drive. In 2018, when Gabriel was 13 years old, he began ground school in an effort to pursue his dream of getting his pilot’s license and working towards a career as a Medevac Pilot. Gabriel’s first flight ever was when he participated in Give Them Wings, a program designed to inspire Indigenous Youth to fly and sponsored in part by Iskwew Air. Through his involvement with Give Them Wings, Gabriel has developed a great relationship with Teara Fraser, the CEO of Iskwew Air. Gabriel has demonstrated a significant amount of gratitude for Ms. Fraser and the mentorship she has provided to him.
Through his efforts, Gabriel has already achieved his Student Pilot License, and on December 24, 2020, Gabriel flew his first solo flight in a Diamond 20 C1 Eclipse airplane. Since his first solo flight, Gabriel has continued flying solo, including in a Cessna 172. Gabriel continues to work towards his Recreational Pilot License, for which Gabriel will have to wait until his 16th birthday to apply.
Gabriel’s interests in flying have also led him to starting his own aviation podcast as well as an aviation club at his high school where he has been able to network with other youth interested in aviation.
Gabriel has demonstrated such strong character over the time I have known him. He is proudly Métis and has learned some of our language. He has also demonstrated to be a gentle but strong advocate for Métis inclusion at school. Finally, Gabriel has demonstrated his strong character through his involvement with Wigs for Kids. On two separate occasions, Gabriel has grown his hair to donate to Wigs for Kids. The first time Gabriel grew his hair for two years before donating his hair on his 12th birthday. Gabriel again donated his hair on his 15th birthday after three years of growth. This has not always been easy as during those five years of growing his hair long, he came up against presumptions and stereotypes due to his long hair. However, Gabriel remained strong in his resolve and commitment.
I wholeheartedly support this nomination for Gabriel to be included as a Métis Youth Role Model for 2021.
Each Métis Role Model will receive $300 in gift cards and be showcased on the Métis Nation British Columbia website. We would like to thank all the nominees who were submitted and encourage their nominators to re-submit next year.
The seventh annual Métis Youth Role Model Campaign launched on January 7, 2021, with a call for outstanding youth nominees. To be eligible, Métis Youth Role Models must be between the ages of 15 and 30 and live in B.C. The MYBC Committee selected the five winners from all the eligible submissions. Click here to see all of this year’s chosen Métis Youth Role Models.