Name: Larissa Crawford
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
Indigenous Ancestry: Penetanguishene Metis
With a passion for Indigenous communities, international development and communications studies major, Larissa Crawford, is already affecting change through her advocacy work.
Originally from Calgary Alberta, the 22-year-old is in her final year at York University in Toronto and has volunteered her time to various organizations including Aboriginal legal services of Ontario where she sits on a criminal diversion program for Indigenous adult offenders.
“The focus of the Community Council is to develop a plan by consensus that will allow the offender to take responsibility for his or her actions,” said Crawford. “We work to address the root causes of the problem, and reintegrate the individual into the community in a positive way.”
Crawford has volunteered in 14 countries to date, and through her travels has experienced some of the most destitute conditions of living and governance. In her third-year she began to critically reflect on the widely-held assumption that any meaningful humanitarian work had to be done abroad, and with that made the conscious decision to direct her efforts closer to home.
Crawford has won several lucrative awards and scholarships for her outstanding community involvement, including the prestigious Terry Fox Humanitarian Award worth 30-thousand dollars. She will be volunteering with the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games and remarkably she has been able to balance all her efforts while raising a beautiful young daughter Zyra, born in November 2016. She credits her mother for setting the example for resilient, articulate and resistant Indigenous leadership.
“My mother has dedicated her career and life into doing amazing work in advancing Indigenous education in Alberta, while simultaneously raising a family, and completing her Masters Degree,” said Crawford. “She has also supported our family’s involvement in our Indigenous communities. This pool of Indigenous leaders is where I draw my motivation and inspiration to contribute to a movement towards self-determination, healing, empowerment, and prosperity.”