Ron Evans aboriginal Chief and leader of the Norway House Cree Nation which hails from Northern Manitoba, believes that by exposing First Nations (aboriginal) youth to Israeli entrepreneurship it can help motivate them and enable them to succeed and achieve more in their own lives.
That's why Evans is running a First Nations’ youth trip for members of his community to come to Israel and see how Israeli entrepreneurs operate. This is the third such trip he is making with local teens in five years.
Evans told the Canadian Jewish News that the Israeli experience – the indigenous Jewish nation's struggle to thrive against the odds after being dispossessed from its ancestral homeland – naturally resonates with Canada’s First Nations.
“Our aim is to develop the next generation of First Nations leaders by looking through the lens of Israel’s inspiring story,” Evan explained. “Israel is first and foremost the land of the heritage of the Jewish People, who have achieved self-determination in a modern democracy and diverse state. Those of us from First Nations communities can appreciate the fascinating balance between modern and ancient that we see in Israel, and especially the sense of connection to the land of one’s ancestors.”
Evans also elaborated on the spiritual connection that his people feel as Christians, and the land in which Jesus lived. “We learn the stories of the Bible. Therefore, a visit to Israel will resonate more with my people than a trip to a theme park such as Disneyland.”
The mission this year focuses on Israel as the “start-up nation.”
"We want to see what we can learn from Israeli innovation," Evans elaborated. "Perhaps we will be able to forge some links that will benefit our community economically."
The trip will receive a briefing on Israel’s high-tech sector, be introduced to new developments in medicinal agriculture and water technology, visit the Ahava factory, a hospitality staff training center in Herzliya, a 3D printing operation, and Kol HaOt, an international Jewish educational art program.
Evans said that while it was difficult to attract participants for his first trips due to security issues, following its wild success all following trips were far easier to get people to sign up to.
“There was a lot of fearmongering about war and violence. But that first trip was so successful that we didn’t have any trouble getting together the second group. We had a full slate for this year, including Norway House author Brenda Fontaine, and other aboriginal community leaders are asking us how we organized the trip. We hope to make this mission to Israel an annual event.”
The Norway House is a first Nations community that is comprised of 6,000 people and is located on the northern shore of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. It is 450 km (279 miles) north of the provincial capital of Winnipeg.