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Meet Michele Young-Crook, advocate, author, and CEO National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association

As CEO of the National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association (NATOA), Michele Young-Crook is striving to make NATOA the centre of excellence in Trust and Investment — as well as making sure the needs of Indigenous women and Indigenous Youth are being met. Anishinaabe/Bear Clan herself, Michele is driven by her deep connection to her Indigenous culture, despite not being raised in the traditional ways of her ancestors. This is passed along through much of her work in public speaking, and she also shared her incredible story in Unbreakable Spirit, the bestseller she co-authored. 

My first job ever was…
a hostess for a restaurant.

I became involved in NATOA because… I was working for a woman who was a consultant in the Indigenous space, and it was at her event that the organization was founded. From the start they needed a volunteer to do admin work, and I put myself forward.

My proudest accomplishment is… being secure in my decisions as a mother. I was always so insecure about my parenting capabilities, and now I’m confident that I am doing the best I can for my three children. When I had my first at the young age of 23 my whole life changed and it filled me with such doubt.

My boldest move to date was… going from having a career and full-time work, to NATOA on a part-time basis with two small children — and I wasn’t sure if it was going to work.  I took a leap of faith in an organization that I was so passionate about and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I surprise people when I tell them… I am an introvert and homebody; most people assume I am an extrovert because of my work — and when I did stand-up comedy for a few years.

My biggest obstacle was… balancing my personal and professional life; I found it very difficult to “keep it together”.  

I overcame it by… prioritizing and making sure that when I was home, I was present with my family and that every child once a week would get 3 hours of my time for just them.  When I was away from work which was 3 nights minimum a week prior to COVID, I made sure I was giving my full attention to work when in meetings.  When I travel every morning before school and every evening before bed I facetime my children no matter the time zone.

My best advice from a mentor was… don’t be afraid to make mistakes; it’s from those mistakes you will grow the most.

The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is… don’t put so much pressure on yourself, you’re only human. 

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… cuddle with the kids and watch a show.

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I used to work in car sales.

I stay inspired by… my family, and strong women.

The future excites me because… you never know where you will be or what you will be doing, I would have never guessed 10 years ago I would be where I am today.

My next step is… to finish my book and get it off to the publisher.

Michele Young-Crook has been a part of the National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association (NATOA) since its inception in 2006 — climbing the ranks from volunteer to CEO. Anishinaabe/Bear Clan herself, Michele is driven by her deep connection to her Indigenous culture. You can learn more about Michele and find more of her writing on her Perspectives page.