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Arts & Culture ᐊᔨᐦᑐᐧᐃᓐ

Jade Mukash is on a mission for Miss Indigenous Canada 2024 

BY Joshua Janke May 30, 2024

With over 10 years of experience as an artist and an advocate for Eeyou Istchee youth, Jade Mukash is passionate about using her creative and communication skills to empower and inspire others. 

As the Youth Representative for the Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association, Mukash brings an artistic flair to the organization. “I value the opportunity to contribute to the wellbeing and development of my community and to celebrate the culture and identity of the Cree people,” says Mukash. 

In 2023, Mukash was crowned Miss Whapmagoostui – a title that carries prestige and responsibility. For Mukash, it’s not just about wearing a crown. It’s to embody a legacy of resilience, cultural pride and service to community. As Miss Whapmagoostui, she says her platform revolves around living a ceremonious and traditional lifestyle – a testament to her deep connection to Cree heritage and values. 

Mukash developed a strong sense of identity and purpose from an early age. “I am the third generation in my family to live this lifestyle and choose to do it in sobriety,” she explains. “I hold sobriety dear to my heart and find it has a positive impact on oneself physically, emotionally and spiritually.” 

Mukash wore her community crown at the Miss Eeyou Eenou Iskwaau pageant in Eastmain last November, where she was the first runner-up. 

“When I became Miss Whapmagoostui, I knew that one of my main duties was to represent everyone at the event in Eastmain and after that. I wanted to represent my community as best as I could.”

Her advocacy extends to cultural platforms and events. “I attended the Cree Nation Youth Council summit as well as the first Indigenous Women Leadership Conference,” she shares. “These are big events where I was able to speak and offer workshops about living a ceremonious lifestyle.”

The title solidified Mukash’s commitment to the Cree language and culture. “I noticed that all my fellow contestants did their speeches in Cree, and mine was the only one in English,” she recalls. “So, after being crowned, I knew it was important for me to represent our language.” 

Her journey as an advocate and artist has led her to significant opportunities on national and international platforms. “I am an advocate for proper health care in our communities,” she explains. “After being a caregiver for some family members, this is a very important issue for me.” 

Through her dedication to community wellness, she actively contributes to initiatives that promote cultural awareness and holistic health.

“Whapmagoostui is a fly-in community, and we have one small clinic. So, you can imagine how much work needs to be done for the healthcare system in our communities to ensure that everyone has proper access and care,” says Mukash. 

After the announcement in April that she would be one of 26 contestants vying for Miss Indigenous Canada 2024 this summer, the outpouring of congratulations was impressive.

The Chisasibi Cree Women’s Association stated that they were “incredibly proud and thrilled” for her. “Jade’s courage, determination and dedication are an inspiration to us all. Her representation not only showcases the strength and resilience of the Cree communities but also opens doors for future generation to shine even brighter,” posted Shelby Bates on the organization’s behalf. 

“It is such an honour to represent our beautiful people and I am very humble to represent my community. I was able to meet so many intelligent and loving young women in the Eeyou Istchee community through the 2023 pageant, but I haven’t seen them again since then. So being at these events is a big thing,” says Mukash.

“We are still in the early stages of understanding our Indigenous pageants and how they can have a positive impact on our people and our youth so I would encourage everyone to speak to the princesses in your community, learn from them and their strengths. Encourage them to continue to share the knowledge and traditions of their communities at events like these. This is a very big opportunity, and I am excited to see the other princesses at future events.” 

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Joshua Janke lives in Montreal and is studying English Literature at Mcgill University. He is passionate about writing, social justice, and creating art.