Indigenous leaders recognized as U of S Canada 150 citizens
- Angela Hill | November 07, 2017
For CeCe Baptiste being recognized as one of ten University of Saskatchewan’s Canada 150 Citizens means bringing more awareness to the work she, and others, are doing.
“I think it’s really important because it underlines the importance of recognizing Indigenous leadership, but I really don’t want to be about me … what I really hope is that it brings awareness to all the good work that I am trying to support in the community,” said Baptiste, a couple of days after the announcement Sept. 8.
“To me it’s about, let’s celebrate volunteers because it inspires more volunteers and that’s what we need to make the world a better place.”
Baptiste works at the university as a strategic planning advisor, but she sees her biggest impact as in the community – she sits on many non-profit boards including for the United Way, she founded the Saskatoon Aboriginal Professionals Association and has hosted a Jane’s Walk at the university.
Making sure the Aboriginal perspective is being elevated at leadership levels is an important part of the work Baptiste does, she said. While she was growing up, her parents led by example showing her they were focused on helping in the community.
“The philosophy of using your voice has been ingrained in me since the start,” she said.
Baptiste said the reception for the U of S Canada 150 Citizen honourees was one of the pillars of her career so far.
“I walked in and I was like ‘how am I sitting with all of these amazing people,’ it’s just sort of astounding to me.”
The ten were honoured for their significant contributions towards making Canada diverse, inclusive and environmentally sustainable.
Those recognized include: education professor Marie Battiste; law student Siera Bearchell; energy conservation co-ordinator at Saskatchewan Environmental Society and U of S graduate, Angie Bugg; public policy professor and Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation Ken Coates; former assistant dentistry professor Dr. Alyssa Hayes; pathology professor and faculty representative on the U of S Board of Governors Dr. Jay Kalra; executive director of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner and U of S graduate Harry Lafond ; PhD candidate Naheda Sahtout.
“I’m a big fan of the U of S. I had five good years at the University of Saskatchewan,” said Max FineDay, co-executive director at the Canadian Roots Exchange and U of S graduate.
He was recognized for his leadership in connecting Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
“It felt good to be recognized by some place that is very much home, that feels like family,” he said.
During his time at the university, FineDay received a political studies degree and served two-terms as president of the U of S Students’ Union.
FineDay said he sees there are so many young people doing so much work towards reconciliation.
“I’m humbled that they felt I was doing work that was worthy to be recognized.”
Like Baptiste, FineDay sees this recognition as not for himself but for the work that he is doing.
The U of S is in engaged in several initiatives under U of S Canada 150 Project, which looks at the university’s history as well as looking to the future and asking questions reconciliation, innovation and sustainability.