Although Gerrit might be the youngest member of the Bimaadzwin team, he brings with him almost a decade of community engagement, youth engagement, policy analysis, project development, and technical writing experience in a variety of fields.
Gerrit completed a Bachelor’s of Social Sciences in Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Ottawa. During the same time, he acted as the executive director of an international youth initiative that organized workshops and delegations to international conferences for youth living in all eight of the Arctic states. Gerrit organized delegations to conferences such as the COP21 Climate Conference, and the annual Arctic Circle Assembly to lobby government and business leaders on issues of importance to youth living in the Arctic region.
Since completing his undergraduate degree, Gerrit has been working with First Nations in northern Ontario and Manitoba on a variety of projects including the development of youth programs, proposals for innovative wellness and treatment centres, reports to various government ministers, and even a mural project and documentary that has since brought members of the community to screenings as far away as Los Angeles! Gerrit has a proven record of completing comprehensive documents very efficiently; and in the two years prior to joining Bimaadzwin, he had developed over twenty reports and proposals, and played an important role in accessing over four-million dollars of additional program funding for the communities he was working with.
Gerrit was raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario and at fourteen he chaired the city’s Youth Services Advisory Committee that worked closely with a regional indigenous-owned airline to open a recreational and service centre for youth; and a variety of other initiatives for youth in the city. While still in high school, Gerrit served as the vice-president of a provincial francophone youth organization, where he worked with the twelve French-language school boards in the province of Ontario to develop programming and organize events for francophone students in the province; and served as the board member from Ontario to the national Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française.
Gerrit continues to look for new challenges and experiences to expand his knowledge and capacities in community and policy development – he just returned to Canada after working for a short time with the State of Louisiana where he explored economic development through cultural promotion – and he hopes to complete a Master’s in Health Policy in the coming years.