History of IYARA

The Northwestern Ontario Indigenous Youth Achievement and Recognition Awards was formally known as The Niigaantige Career Fair. Niigaantige began in 1987 when a need was identified in Northwestern Ontario to address the high attrition rates among Indigenous students studying at the secondary and post secondary levels. Founding organizations formed a partnership that paved the way for other community organizations to join in their efforts to address this need. As a result, and in an effort to encourage students to persevere with their educational goals, the concept of Niigaantige was born.

In 2003, Sandra Kakeeway had a vision to acknowledge the Indigenous youth in our community and a result of her creativity and passion, The Ontario Indigenous Youth Achievement Awards was formed. These award ceremonies celebrate the talents and accomplishments of our Indigenous Youth. 

With each passing year, the Awards Ceremony has gained more and more recognition while providing hope for our Indigenous youth. The event itself takes a lot of planning and preparation and the Awards Committee is comprised of all volunteers who represent organizations that are committed to ensuring that Indigenous youth look forward to new and innovative ways of learning about and planning for their future. 

This year’s event has grown and expanded once again. We are thrilled to not only award youth in age categories from age 11 - 29, but we wish to recognize those employers and individuals in Northwestern Ontario who have demonstrated outstanding commitment, inspiration and devotion to encouraging our youth.

About Our Logo

The rising sun represents a new beginning for youth.
The Sleeping Giant represents wisdom and guidance from our creator.
The feathers represent the highest honour given in recognition of excellence.
The pipe represents the purity and innocence of youth.
The four colours on the feathers represent diversity.

The  logo was chosen over many applicants during our 2007 logo contest. The winner was Nathan McDonald who at the time was a 17 year old student from Westgate High School. Nathan is a member of Whitesand First Nation.