#RisingYouth grantee Miriame Giroux in conversation with YEA Peyton Straker

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Miriame Giroux-Paniloo and I am Inuk, French and Italian. My Inuit family and ancestors come from the Kitikmeot Region and the Baffin Region. Our people hunt caribou, narwhal, beluga and polar bears amongst other animals on the tundra and sea. I am 21 years old and I grew up in Yellowknife after moving from Taloyoak. I am passionate about the land, education, equity for all and sports.

How did you hear about #RisingYouth and what inspired you to apply?

I heard about Rising Youth through one of my friends and someone I look up to Peyton Straker. I was inspired to apply because I know there is poverty in Yellowknife and I wanted to help students that live and go to school here.

We love Everybody’s Closet. Can you explain what your project is, how you came up with it and the purpose of it?

Thank you, I also want to thank all the people involved in bringing the project to life. Everyone’s Closet is a project made to supply students in Yellowknife schools with hygiene products and certain clothing items that they might not have at home. This is done through having a closet in the school open to everyone. I got the idea of doing this project through a video I saw of people down south doing the same thing, a closet in schools with these supplies for children. I think it should be done everywhere, it’s a great idea and helps. Even laundry available at school is really helpful for students that can’t necessarily do it at home.

Resources like Everybody’s Closet make schools a safer place for all youth, especially Indigenous youth. Why do you think it’s important for services like this to be accessible in schools?

Because everyone deserves to feel happy, healthy, comfortable and confident. Students deserve to have these basic needs met so they can be ready to learn in school and live their lives outside of school. It makes it a safer place because being clean is a basic necessity that makes a huge difference, just think about a time you felt dirty or sweaty and couldn’t take a shower, it doesn’t feel good does it? Well when you felt clean with clean clothes, you felt good and were ready to learn and listen right? When people feel more comfortable, when people feel clean and healthy, people feel more safe.

Why do you think it is important for Indigenous youth to be engaged in community service initiatives like #RisingYouth?

Because you can make the differences you want to see in your community. We see the problems in our communities and with initiatives like Rising Youth we can try to help fix them, or improve them. A little bit helps, and with every kid and person you help, you make an impact on their life and that’s worth it. It makes you feel happy inside, helping people or doing awesome projects that can make a difference.

When did you first start doing community service work and why?

I started volunteering when I was a kid with my mom and she always taught me to help people. I liked volunteering at the NWTSPCA and I try to help people where I go in life. You don’t have to do projects like the Rising Youth projects to help people, you can help your family, your friends, people you meet on your path of life and it is just as important and meaningful as the projects youth are creating with Rising Youth. But the reason I do community service and I did this project is because I want to make a difference and help people in need.

If Indigenous youth are interested in applying for a Rising Youth Community Service Grant but don’t know where to start, what are some cool project ideas that you might suggest?

An idea that came to mind for me when I was applying was hosting a sports tournament; all you need to do is book a gym, get equipment, maybe just volleyballs and people that want to come. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing it’ll be easier and you will find the people you need to help you through it too.

You are an Indigenous youth leader in your community and we want to thank you for your volunteerism in the North. What helps you stay motivated to help your community?

Thank you. One thing that motivates me is seeing other youth and people I know doing great things in life including awesome projects. I think to myself ‘Hey I can do that too’. I also find the motivation within myself.

Any final advice or suggestions for youth who are considering applying?

Do it, it’ll change your life.

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To apply for your community project, apply here:

WWW.RISINGYOUTH.CA