Recently more than 100 youth, speakers and facilitators gathered in Teslin for one of the largest First Nation youth gatherings in Yukon’s history. Among the speakers was Yukoner Mikah Fox.
The youth gathering was born from a demonstrated need for young people to feel connected and supported, a need that wasn’t being filled in the territory.
That’s where Fox comes in.
The first thing he does when he speaks at events is give thanks to his mother and grandmother.
From his mother, he learned the importance of speaking up for what you believe in and to pay attention to the policies and politics that shape communities. From his grandmother, he learned cultural traditions, and the importance of spirituality and humbleness.
Together their teachings formed the underpinnings of his aboriginal advocacy work.
For more than 15 years, Fox, a two-spirited member of the Crow Clan and Kwanlin Dun First Nation, has travelled the world and worked in many capacities in municipal, community, territorial and national councils and committees.
Currently, he’s calling Vancouver home, where he is raising his teenage sister and helping support her as she heads into her first year of university.
Advocacy work, promoting engagement and cross-cultural work is Fox’s way to give back to a community that has given him so much already, he said.
“Growing up in a First Nation community, surrounded by my immediate friends and family, seeing the difference between my generation and other generations and the impact of residential schools really had a strong impact on me.
“A lot of the youth don’t know they have a voice and the power to make change.”
Fox recently completed his education, earning a bachelor of business administration from British Columbia Institute of Technology, where he finished his last semester studying abroad in Paris, France.
He supported himself in his post-secondary career, seeking out scholarships and bursaries, which is part of the message he sends to other First Nations youth.
“There are lots of things out there that the youth need to know about,” he said. “And they need to know you can move out and come back and work with your First Nations.”
His main goal, at the moment, is to watch his sister succeed in university.
“She’ll be starting this year and I’m really proud of her.”
Fox’s education has opened numerous doors for him in his field of work, including roles with the B.C. government in children and family development and a spot as a 2010 Olympic coordinator in North Vancouver with Squamish Nation.
Fox also holds a diploma from BCIT in marketing and entrepreneurship, and he’s hoping to satisfy his entrepreneurial drive through the development of a First Nations clothing line that sends a message of inclusiveness – modern First Nations fashion for the contemporary world, he said.
“I want it to be not just geared towards First Nations but geared toward mainstream people with more of a collective, to share our culture and for them to be immersed in who we are in a contemporary level.”
Despite his world travelling, he’s proud to call Yukon home and hopes to be back soon, continuing his advocacy work.
“The fact that I could travel all over the world on behalf of aboriginal youth, our culture and traditions is very gratifying,” he said.
“To be able to show the world that we’re not all alike. We’re very strong people. That’s where my passion comes from.”
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