Sacrificing education for work, a sad reality for some

A voice for Sahtu youth. Cody Orlias is the youngest delegate at the Sahtu Secretariat Assembly taking place this week in Tulita.

At just 16-years-old Orlias is representing the community of Behdzi AhDA in Colville Lake to act as a voice for the youth.

16- year-old Cody Orlias representing Behdzi AhDA as a youth delegate for the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated (SSU) Annual Assembly. Image courtesy Kristen Berkeley

Orlias says that he felt it was important to participate in the assembly because he sees the youth struggling in the community and he can relate.

Orlias had to drop out of school last year, because he couldn’t afford to go to school and pay for housing on his own without any income support.

I had a lot of struggles in the past going to school. Youth under 18 years of age can’t apply for income support and it makes it really hard paying from out of your own pocket for housing.

Cody says he feel likes he had to sacrifice his education and he wants to see other youth get involved and start to make a difference in their communities.

We are the next generation. We need to know what to do to keep our system going- the Dene system.

In Tulita for the assembly – NWT MP Michael McLeod, says Orlias’ story is problematic and that students need to try to take advantage of any programs or student counselling they can find to steer them in the right direction.


NWT MP Michael McLeod speaking at the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated Annual Assembly. Image courtesy Kristen Berkeley.

It’s always concerning to hear from a young person that has so many concerns trying to get through the system. Our system is set up so that it can have people in the schools and post-secondary university. We provide a lot of support through the student financial assistance programs. Indian Affairs has a post-secondary bursary program. You would think there are a lot of safety nets so that people don’t fall through the cracks, but it looks like he is being challenged with many different issues, including housing.

Orlias says despite his setback, he hopes to go back to school soon and work in leadership training.


About the Author

Kristen Berkeley
Kristen is a multimedia journalist, reporter and producer at CKLB. Originally from Toronto, Kristen was interested in Indigenous issues and decided to relocate to Yellowknife to join CKLB. Kristen received her education from York University with degrees in Political Science and Communication. She is also a graduate from the Seneca-at-York Broadcast Journalism program. If you want to get in contact with Kristen, send her an email at

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