Durham College Indigenous student success coach wins City of Pickering Heritage Award

Jocelyne Pelletier, an Indigenous student success coach at Durham College’s (DC) First Peoples Indigenous Centre, was recently granted a 2021 Pickering Civic Award in the Heritage category. Held annually for 17 years, this award recognizes individuals, groups or businesses who demonstrate a significant contribution to the preservation, conservation, education or promotion of the city’s heritage.

“I first learned about the award when one of my peers contacted me to ask for my permission to be nominated,” says Pelletier. “I was so excited to receive a letter from Mayor David Ryan, congratulating me and letting me know I had received my first Civic Award for outstanding achievements, including the work I did to plan and erect a memorial at City Hall honouring the first 215 Indigenous children found in Kamloops.”

As a member of the Indigenous Relationship Building Circle, Pelletier has played a critical role in providing guidance on community initiatives which acknowledge and celebrate the contributions, history and cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples. Pelletier is a member of Serpent River First Nation and the granddaughter of a residential school survivor; she has worked to educate others on the Intergenerational traumas experienced by many in the community and the systemic consequences of this country’s history of colonialism. As a result of her efforts, Durham Region has its first commemorative orange crosswalk, installed in October 2021 for the lost generations and to serve as a space to heal and learn.

When asked what this award means to her, Pelletier spoke of her recent accomplishments and her hopes for the future.

“This award allows me to reflect on my work and advocacy regarding social justice concerning Indigenous issues and the relationships needed to move forward in honouring truth before reconciliation,” says Pelletier. “For the City of Pickering, acknowledging Indigenous voice is crucial in those relationships. There is much work to do regarding Indigenous issues; this is a small step but a significant achievement. I hope to continue my role in the Indigenous Building Relations Committee with the City of Pickering in whatever capacity.”

Congratulations to Jocelyne Pelletier on receiving this well-earned award, and for leading the way.