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Peer mentoring program for aboriginal women seeks participants

The Whitehorse Aboriginal Women's Circle is launching a new mentorship program for aboriginal women. The Leading the Way program kicks off at a weekend-long symposium next weekend, from March 20-.

The Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle is launching a new mentorship program for aboriginal women.

The Leading the Way program kicks off at a weekend-long symposium next weekend, from March 20-22.

“It’s going to be an amazing event,” said co-ordinator Diane Strand, gushing with excited laughter.

“It’s going to be an incredible weekend of really looking at what it is that you want out of your life, and then, what can you do to help others, or inspire others to move along in their life.”

Up to 60 aboriginal women will attend the event, either as mentors or as mentees.

The mentors will get a full day of training on leadership and life coach skills on the Friday, said Strand.

“They’re going to get this incredible, impactful training session.”

The program was developed by a group out of Ontario that has been running these sorts of mentorships for 30 years, said Strand.

On Saturday the whole group will be together for a variety of self-development and self-awareness activities, culminating in a speed-dating-style mentoring event.

Saturday will also feature Candy Palmater as a keynote speaker.

Palmater is a Mi’kmaq comedian and performer who has her own national TV show on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

“She had been a lawyer, and them boom, just changed her whole way, like ‘I’m following my dream to be this comedian,’ and now she’s a very successful comedian,” said Strand.

“We’re targeting women that may be in that age group where they’re like, ‘OK, what do I want to be when I grow up? I’ve been doing this for so long, and it’s really not my dream.’ That kind of a thing. So she’s going to be able to give us some inspiration to say, ‘OK, I’m going to take this leap of faith now.’”

Palmater will also perform a comedy show, open to the public, on the evening of March 21 at the Yukon Arts Centre.

On Sunday, the process of matching mentors to mentees will take place, said Strand.

And that’s just the beginning.

The symposium is just the start of a 10-month program that the participants will follow, meeting with each other every month.

“The women are going to get help through the next 10 months. They’re not going to just be hooked up and sent off.”

They will have a program to follow, and professional support as needed, said Strand.

After six months the whole group will meet back together again, and at the end there will be a sort-of graduation ceremony.

There has been a lot of interest in the program so far, said Strand.

“We were really afraid, because it is the same time as the aboriginal hockey tournament. And we thought, ‘Oh no, there’s going to be so many people that are not going to want to do it’ - they’re going to want to watch hockey. But actually a lot of women are wanting to do this. They’re wanting to go into the symposium.”

There are still spots open, especially for women who want to be mentors, she said.

“We’re looking for mentors, women who see themselves that they’ve accomplished something within their life and that they’d like to pass on to other women.”

Visit “Leading the Way - A Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Mentorship program” on Facebook for more information, or to register. The program is free.

Registration closes March 16.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at