THUNDER BAY — "I am in a whirlwind of emotions," Jason Rasevych said via Twitter after learning he had won a Premier's Award for Ontario college graduates who have helped to strengthen the economy and improve people's lives.
Rasevych, who graduated from Confederation College in 2006, received the award Monday night at the Colleges Ontario Higher Education summit in Toronto.
He was chosen from among 18 business program alumni from schools across Ontario.
Six other graduates from various colleges also received a Premier's Award for their success in a variety of disciplines.
Rasevych was nominated by Confederation College, which also presented him with its own President's Award at the Community Partners event in September.
"That was enough recognition for me to be able to say that I'm doing well in my career... but last night was something that took this recognition to the next level," he told TBnewswatch in an interview Tuesday.
"The Premier's Award has inspired me to continue on with my journey."
That journey has taken Rasevych from his home on the Ginoogaming First Nation to success as a self-employed consultant on several economic development projects for Northwestern Ontario First Nations, and most recently to Deloitte Canada, where he's a partner and leads the company's Indigenous Client Services practice.
Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax, and related services.
In his role with the company, Rasevych manages close to $1 billion in accounts for 20 First Nations and provides business advice to more than 230 others.
The government announcement about his selection for a Premier's Award noted that as a child he watched his father affirm Indigenous rights for his home community, and that he continues the same kind of work today with Deloitte.
Rasevych said he advises Indigenous youth to pursue an education, to pursue their dreams, and to develop an entrepreneurial spirit.
It's particularly important "to not hold back when it comes to speaking out and having an Indigenous voice on matters," he said.
"A lot of what I learned in mainstream education I'm blending with traditional knowledge that was passed down to me from my father and from other elders, Chiefs and leaders that raised me and shaped my world view. at a young age."
Rasevych said Indigenous people should leverage their "booksmarts" and the "streetsmarts" they've acquired while dealing with issues such as poverty to advance their communities, put in better practices for governance, and help set them on a pathway to prosperity.
The last time a Confederation College graduate received a Premier's Award was in 2014, when the recipient was Georjann Morriseau.