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Youth social worker from Tla'amin receives award

Indigenous wellness at heart of Adam Gauthier’s life and work

Social worker and Indigenous youth and families advocate Adam Gauthier knew from a young age that being a part of Indigenous wellness was his passion.

Raised in Tla'amin Nation, Gauthier credits his family, elders, community support and Tla'amin values passed onto him for his perseverance and passion out in the greater world. He said he was in shock when he received a call from the Indspire Awards president telling him that he had won an award in the First Nations youth category. 

"I can't even put it into words, it's one of those special highlights where your mind goes blank," said Gauthier. "My uncle actually won an Indspire award so it feels like a legacy. I'm continuing on this wonderful work of strengthening and building community."

Although the 2024 Indspire Awards already happened on April 18 in Ottawa, Gauthier is excited that the ceremony will be broadcast on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, on CBC.

"My mother, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents were very influential in my development and growth," said Gauthier. "[My family influenced] so many of the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual components of my life, raising me into who I am today.” 

Gauthier left the Tla'amin community more than 10 years ago for Victoria to pursue higher education and his passion for working with Indigenous families and youth.

“I am [helping others] build their dreams and futures with my work," said Gauthier. "When I encounter people in communities directly, it's all about building capacity, and helping amplify their voices, showing them a path that is built with their strengths."

Gauthier said moving away from his rural community to the province's capital city wasn't easy, and it took a little while to find his footing in that community.

"I definitely went through different nuances of character building and moments that test you, moments that give you affirmation, moments that give you clarity," said Gauthier. "Right away I noticed how much opportunity is [in Victoria], yet how little is for Indigenous people."

He said at one point he almost gave up and moved back to Tla'amin, but he kept trying to knock on as many doors as he could.

"Through grounding yourself, you find the right people on the right path, and opportunities to flourish," said Gauthier. "I remember at one point I felt so knocked down when I was putting my name out there, trying to do so much and not hearing back or not feeling completely accepted. I was so close to packing my bags and just coming back home." 

Eventually things started coming together for Gauthier. He completed Camosun College’s Indigenous Family Support and Community, Family and Child Studies programs while simultaneously working with Indigenous families at organizations such as the M’akola Group of Societies and the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. Following this, he went on to complete his bachelor of child and youth care at University of Victoria.

"It [the award ceremony] really opened my eyes and showed me that I'm still able to do more," said Gauthier. "When I talk about momentum and about things that give me purpose, the Indspire awards and my family give me that purpose."

On June 21, Tla’amin will host an Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at its waterfront park at tišosem. This year’s theme is qatᶿɛnxegəs (qats-sun-wheegus), which means to unite or come together. Gauthier said he will be in Tla'amin territory to celebrate with friends and family.  

"We're [Tla'amin] definitely in a much more deserving place, having a spot at the table, having our voices heard, having our ways of being recognized," said Gauthier. "I can reflect on my grandparents' generation through stories, that wasn't always this way. Of course, it definitely was something that is unthinkable because the barriers, obstacles and challenges for us is now something that we're diminishing, eliminating and erasing." 

To see the Indspire award recipients and to find out how to watch the award ceremony on June 21, go to To find out more about Tla’amin Nation Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations, go to

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