Akwesasne student wins OPG award

Image of Shawna O'Neill
By Shawna O'Neill
Akwesasne student wins OPG award
Photo provided by Taylor Day.

AKWESASNE – Helping the community of Akwesasne in any way is one of Taylor Day’s life-long priorities.

Day of Akwesasne is one of this year’s proud recipients of a $5,000 OPG John Wesley Beaver Award.

Day has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Carleton University and will be entering Law School at Queen’s University this fall, where she hopes to pursue a career in human rights and Indigenous law.

“I’m excited, not necessarily nervous; just not sure what to expect,” said Day about her upcoming academic adventure.

The local student recognizes there are always things occurring within the MCA that she would like to be a part of, as well as periodic developments pertaining to land claims and potential conflicts involving the CBSA in the region.

“My dream is to be home but go wherever I’m needed….like in Northern B.C. with the current protest, or something in Toronto and Northern Ontario, if I can,” said Day.

OPG representatives are excited to see how Day’s optimistic future pans out, even extending a potential opportunity to have her work with the company next summer.

“This scholarship has already been really beneficial…I was able to meet a bunch of different workers at OPG,” said Day, who was especially happy to meet a Mohawk employee. “It’s cool to see that representation…to see another Mohawk; you don’t see that too often.”

Day said that she has been criticized for “practicing the white man’s law” but feels that human rights violations will continue to occur if Indigenous peoples don’t have proper representation in a court of law.

“For my community, there’s so much out there, and we can’t be scared or nervous to go…real change happens when you infiltrate from the inside out…it’s easy to sit there and say there are things that aren’t good for the people…but that’s why you go there and make the change,” said Day, who encourages others to challenge their perspectives while always working towards their goals.

“Always remember who you are working for; home will always be there, friends will always be there, if they really love you and care they will support you in all your endeavors and encourage you to do what you want to do for the community. Continue working for the future generations, current generations, work to make your ancestors proud of you…if you don’t get your dream job, you are still here beating all the odds…with colonization we’re not supposed to be here and we are here (defying odds) in all different fields,” said Day proudly.

Day feels that the scholarship program is important as the company and her community have not always had the best history together, but feels that as of recently, OPG is trying to reconcile the valuable relationship.

“Don’t confine yourself just to Akwesasne…there’s more than what’s around here,” said Day.

The Beaver award is given to one male and one female Indigenous student annually, recognizing and supporting talented individuals with a history of community involvement, academic excellence and hard work.

“Mr. Beaver was one of the most notable engineers in OPG’s history. The John Wesley Beaver Memorial Award was established in 1997 by OPG’s predecessor, Ontario Hydro, and is administered by OPG’s Native Circle, a networking group for Indigenous employees,” read an OPG press release statement.

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