Sakewew student to champion awareness of missing and murdered women

Grade 10 Sakewew High School student Kenecia Amber Rose Anderson-Tootoosis, 15, has been named Miss Manito Ahbee 2013-2014.

Born Feb .10, 1998 weighing two lbs 10 oz, Kenecia is a member of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Treaty Six Territory, a descendent of famous peace making Chief Poundmaker and the distinguished treaty advocate and humanitarian, John B. Tootoosis.

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Hers is a family of honour. Three have received the highest award Canada bestows upon their people, The Order of Canada.She is the daughter of a teacher and former Miss Indian World, Celeste Tootoosis. Her maternal grandmother is Leona Tootoosis, elder, social worker and Cree translater.

Kenecia was crowned Miss Manito Ahbee in Winnipeg, Man. on Aug. 20. She was crowned by the former Miss Manito Ahbee, Laryn Oaks.

The title of Miss Manito Ahbee is important to creating awareness of the 500 plus missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada. Many of these women were buried without knowing who their murderer was and yet many stay missing without proper investigation because they come from the most under represented and vulnerable part of society - aboriginal, poor and troubled women and children.

Kenecia's goal is to help give their issue a voice, but not only that, to honour all women and young girls - to know they are beautiful and that they are sacred.She will do this by speaking widely about this issue and plans to hold a free conference for women and girls on all the different modalities that are available to people to help them take the first step to self -esteem and self-worth so that they can continue healing from the historical trauma that plagues women, oppressed people and indigenous nations across North America.

Kenecia maintains a high academic average while she participates in sports, and cultural activities in and out of school. She is a member of the Sakewew Substance Awareness and Empowerment for Youth Group Inc. Here she wants to promote positive self-image with her peers in a school where the majority of the students experience the effects of historical trauma and end up in the form of statistics. She wants to put her positive energy and enthusiasm to work with her peers in her school and see how the power of positive thinking can help create the change in her school first. This will be documented in a short film and she will do this cooperatively with her peers in the SSAEY group. In this group they learn leadership skills and it is a youth for youth group.

Her hope is to create the change and the mindset in indigenous women toward themselves so that the larger community will have more respect for our beautiful indigenous women.

"You are a mirror; what you put out there comes back to you."

She is currently training to be a life skills coach and a Medicine Wheel Model trainer for which she will get an out of school high school credit.

She has been trained by many skilled artisans in the art of quilling. She makes her own quilled accessories and has received a Saskatchewan Artsboard grant to create quilled moccasins and leggings. Through this art form she learned self-respect, patience and cultural protocol.

She can share this art form along with her knowledge as dancer in the teen girls fancy shawl category to youth and larger community. Kenecia loves to read, watch movies, stay fit and hang out with all her friends at school and her pow-wow family.

The title of Miss Manito Ahbee honours the memory of the missing and murdered aboriginal women. Every four years a family of an aboriginal woman who was taken much too soon is honoured by the Manito Ahbee Festival. This will be the fourth year that we honour the memory of Cherisse Houle. The four young women who have been chosen are now considered part of the Houle family.

The Miss Manito Ahbee title is given to a powwow dancer between the ages of 13 and 17 who is enrolled in school, is a role model and carries the teachings and knowledge of her tribe's history and traditions.

Cherisse Diane Marie Houle was born in Winnipeg on July 7, 1991. She passed away in July of 2009 just six days shy of her 18th birthday.

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