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NORTHUMBERLAND – Young Indigenous people are the fastest-growing segment in Canada and the federal government has to find a way to assist them to become leaders, says local riding MP Kim Rudd.

"We have to help them with that," Rudd said in an interview Thursday after taking part in a Conference Board of Canada event she attended this past week in Alberta.

She spoke to the National Summit (Our Land, Our Future) on Indigenous Youth and Natural Resources Development at Grey Eagle Resort and Casino on Nov. 22 in her position as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.

While there she met a former Alderville First Nation young person, Shannon George who works at the resort.

In her address, Rudd said she spoke to 10 young people about natural resources development.

"The conversation started on a very important note – we heard loud and clear that there are urgent priorities for many communities in Canada unrelated to natural resource development, and that we have a long way to go to addressing them.

"We heard that there are barriers and disconnects in how we communicate, how we engage, and how we work to reduce socio- economic gaps, support greater self- determination, and establish opportunities to work together on shared priorities.

"We heard loud and clear that for many communities, this is an issue that extends well beyond natural resource development.

"I can tell you that after my discussion last night (Tuesday Nov. 21), I have every faith that the young leaders represented in this room will ensure that our Government continues to drive progress on this front."

Much of Rudd’s address focused on renewable energy, change and collaboration.

"Whether it’s mining or forestry, we need the same willingness to question old ways and challenge old ideas," she also said. "We need to seek ideas from a wide range of perspectives, and to bring your passion for the environment.

This is where Indigenous youth have something special to offer: In addition to the skills I spoke about earlier, you also bring a unique respect for the obligation we owe to those who have come before us and those who will follow."

Rudd also spoke about reconciliation.

"As the Prime Minister has said many times, no relationship is more important to our government than our relationship with Indigenous peoples.

For us, reconciliation is an imperative that informs everything we do."

She noted that this generation of Indigenous People (whose average age is 32) is coming into the workforce during a new relationship with the Federal Government and a "transition to a cleaner energy future … I know that today’s Indigenous youth will make great things happen and I encourage all of you to try."

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