By Haley Grinder

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association (NATOA) is hosting its second Indigenous Youth Summit from Nov. 15 to Nov. 17. The three-day virtual event aims to teach useful life skills for Indigenous youth ages 18-35 in a fun and social atmosphere.

The summit was created last year due to the rising mental health issues emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. “During the pandemic, we felt that a lot of the events geared towards Indigenous youth were either cancelled or postponed as well as none of them have incorporated financial literacy or mental health,” says Michele Young-Crook, CEO and president of NATOA. “With the pandemic, we felt mental health would be so important due to such an uncertain time.”

The goal of the event is to improve awareness of mental health management strategies and resources available for those in need. The summit also teaches fundamental life tools such as entrepreneurship, employment skills, and both personal and professional financial strategies. Young-Crook organized the event, and says the workshop will help provide, “confidence in financial decisions, and confidence in themselves as a whole to develop skills that will help them achieve their goals as they grow and make life decisions.”

She adds that the youth will be taking home an invaluable skillset in budgeting, filing taxes on and off reserve, indigenizing their workplace or business, managing your credit and assets, learning the best practices in growing their business, strategizing plans to work abroad, creating lasting business concepts, and ultimately, building a healthy relationship with money.

The summit will also be hosting a “Race in Your Moccasins,” a competition where participants are placed in random groups and given challenges to complete. The fastest and most efficient solutions for the problems will receive a cash prize.

Last year, the Indigenous Youth Summit had over 200 participants, close to the same amount currently registered for this year. Some participants last year went on to open a nonprofit, become youth trustees for their community, and join their community council, and one even successfully opened their own corporation.

The summit costs $25 for all three days, although sponsorship may be available for select individuals. For Indigenous youth interested in learning more, visit