Positive profiling and youth mentorship initiatives are what Brandon’s aboriginal liaison officer hopes to accomplish in upcoming months.
"That’s our future," David Ironstand said. "Giving them the tools now and maybe giving them some ideas or other options ... that’s something that was lacking when I was a youth."
Ironstand, who has been an active member of the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples’ Council, took over the newly created position in September, and has been focused on carrying foward BUAPC’s main objectives — education, housing, economic development and employment.
Ironstand’s nine-month term contracted position is also dedicated to creating positive profiles of Brandon’s aboriginal peoples. Ironstand said educating the public is key to achieveing that goal.
"You have your obvious stereotypes that are all over," he said. "I think one of the main things that we need to try and do is try and educate people and cultures."
In hopes of removing some of the stereotypes that plague aboriginal peoples, Ironstand has partnered with Westman Communications Group for a positive profile oriented television show.
"Boosho! Brandon," which airs on WCG-TV, showcases prominent and successful aboriginal members of the Brandon community.
A partnership with Brandon’s Keywest Photo in hopes of creating a montage of local aboriginal professionals to be featured on multiple social media platforms is also in the works.
"These are all aboriginal people that have contributed and are still contributing to society," he said. "We have professionals that have been in town for many years, Métis and First Nations professionals that are working in the city.
"We’re calling for those professionals now to be proud of who they are and to celebrate the fact we’re aboriginal people and we do count in society."
After spending time with aboriginal community members, Ironstand said some of their concerns include Brandon’s lack of affordable housing, aboriginal education and training initiatives as well as early child hood development — all of which are addressed in BUAPC’s strategic plan.
BUAPC is also hosting Engaging Momentum 2014 for Brandon School Division aboriginal students and community members on Jan. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Brandon University. Speakers will include Gabrielle Scrimshaw, the 2013 inspire First Nations Youth Achiever award winner, Charlotte Larocque, executive director and president at Spirit Staffing and Consulting Brandon Inc. and Ius Opes as well as Justice Murray Sinclair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. To register for the free event, contact David at 204-729-2462.
When asked if there are areas Brandon is lacking in when it comes to aboriginal resources, Ironstand admits there’s always room for improvement.
"A lot of our people move from First Nations communities so they have the support of their treaty status ... but when they come to the city, it’s really up to them to try and access a lot of those resources," he said. "At this point when you look at the future and when you look at the services, definitely things can be improved."
Ironstand, who was born in Grandview, is a second-generation residential school survivor and attended École New Era School and Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School before graduating from Brandon University with a political science and native studies degree.
He also has management experience and has worked with youth within the Child and Family Services field in Manitoba.
Although there is no guarantee the City of Brandon or BUAPC will extend Ironstand’s position, he’s still hopeful a future permanent aboriginal liaison officer could be in the works.
"It’s something that’s on the rise," Ironstand said in a recent interview.
"Winnipeg has a division, Thunder Bay, Calgary, Edmonton, they all have their own divisions but with regards to a city with this population, it’s really new to this size so my hope and dream is to see that extended out."