Indigenous PhD students recognized for academic excellence
- Michelle Lerat | August 29, 2020
Two Indigenous scholars will share the $20,000 Queen Elizabeth Centennial Aboriginal Scholarship.
Aidan Mowat, a PhD student in Geological Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan and Vanier Scholar Merelda Fiddler-Potter, a PhD student at Johnson Shoyama School of Public Policy in Regina will each receive $10,000.
Fiddler-Potter was a journalist for sixteen years, primarily with the CBC and is currently a sessional instructor at First Nations University of Canada. She was thinking of her next steps for her PhD project when she got the news she had won the scholarship.
“I was at first kind of shocked when [they] said I won and I was just really grateful,” she said.
Fiddler-Potter’s work is a qualitative comparative case study that looks at how media frames topics such as missing murdered Indigenous women and the shooting death of Colten Boushie.
“Essentially what I’m looking at is how journalism and the stories that we tell can contributed or doesn’t [contribute] to the reconciliation process,” said Fiddler-Potter.
She said receiving the award gave her a boost and made her feel that the work she is doing is both valued and recognized.
“When you get a scholarship like this you just think there’s a whole committee of people who looked at the work you want to do and looked at the work that you are doing and have said please keep doing this work,” she said.
Mowat was born and raised in Saskatoon, where she is currently working on her PhD. She is studying the ground water within the Williston Basin, a small sedimentary basin that spans most of southern Saskatchewan and into Alberta and Manitoba.
“I’m looking at the ground water, its evolution over time and how we can date that to determine different paleo events and hydrogeological activity in the basin over time,” said Mowat.
Mowat was excited to have received the scholarship. She says it will help her carry out the work for her PhD without having to worry as much about finances.
“I’m extremely grateful and I encourage anyone who self identifies as Métis, Aboriginal, Inuit to apply for [the scholarship],” said Mowat. “It is an amazing opportunity to get some funding and survive as you go through university.”
The Government of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina, and the University of Saskatchewan award the Queen Elizabeth II scholarship and the Queen Elizabeth II Centennial Aboriginal Scholarship annually, based on academic excellence, to Indigenous students pursuing graduate or post-graduate studies.
“The Queen Elizabeth scholarships recognize the importance of both fundamental and applied research to both public policy and to the continued expansion of Saskatchewan’s innovation economy,” said Advanced Education Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor in a press release.