Awards ceremony celebrates Indigenous achievement at U of S
- NC Raine | February 12, 2018
Some of the brightest and most promising Indigenous students in the province were honoured on last Thursday at the Indigenous Student Achievement Awards at the University of Saskatchewan.
Forty-four Indigenous students from sixteen different colleges and departments were recognized for excellence in studies, undertaking unique or compelling research, making significant contributions to the community, or who have demonstrated leadership.
“Today is about individual achievement, but it's also about achievement for the benefit of others,” said Patti McDougall, Vice-Provost of teaching and learning at the University of Saskatchewan.
“Not to elevate the self or to put one's self out there first, but rather achievement that benefits one's family, one's community, and achievement that, I know, benefits the U of S as a whole,” she said.
The awards were one of the many events during Indigenous Achievement Week, which celebrated the success and contributions of Metis, First Nations, and Inuit staff and faculty at the U of S.
The theme of this year's festivities was “identity”.
“(Identity) calls us to think about the values, beliefs, and worldview of the Indigenous peoples,” said McDougall. “I know there is no single worldview, no single history, but rather the university is blessed by the diversity of Indigenous peoples and experiences.”
One of the forty-four students honoured was Leigh Thomas, who received an award for academic excellence. Thomas, from Chitek Lake, Saskatchewan, is a third year Regional and Urban Planning student interested in Indigenous planning through community led initiatives, traditional Indigenous governance systems, and integrating ways of knowing into planning practices.
“It's really humbling to be recognized,” said Thomas. “I worked hard and did a lot of community work. I've been pushing other people to get these awards rather than getting them myself, so this is the first time in the University setting my community work is being acknowledged.”
Part of Thomas' work includes a youth report through Taking it Global on how to get First Nations youth involved in initiatives, so that voices of the younger generations are heard.
“I thought about my (family) and what would make it easier for them – what was missing for me that I wish was there,” he said. “I hope (these awards) younger students someone to look up to or take after, or someone to know so they too can make connections. It's a continuum.”
Over twenty events took place during the week, including a Metis dance performance and a participatory art creation.
Roy Romanow, Chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan, also congratulated the students: “Your stories of success will provide inspiration for those who come after you,” he said.
More information on the Indigenous Achievement Week can be fount at