Chante Speidel is a first-year USask student in the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) with the College of Education. (Photo: Submitted)

First-year ITEP student recognized for leadership

Chante Speidel models supportive leadership to her peers by ‘doing’ and shows great commitment to the teaching profession.

She is a first-year Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) student from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation on Treaty 4 territory and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She describes the qualities of a student leader as being consistent, speaking out with encouragement, having a positive attitude and having great management skills.

 was recognized with an award for leadership at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Indigenous Student Achievement Awards, which was held virtually on Feb. 4, 2021, to honour USask Indigenous students for their academic excellence, leadership, research, community engagement and resiliency.

The award ceremony was part of Indigenous Achievement Week (IAW), which celebrated the successes and contributions of Métis, First Nations and Inuit students, staff and faculty within the context of this year’s theme: nīkānihk itohtētān, walking together into the future. We asked Speidel a few questions about her journey at USask.

Why did you choose education and the ITEP program?
I chose education because as an Indigenous woman, I have seen where the education system is lacking to support and to nurture Indigenous students. I want to be able to work as an educator to help my community and to decolonize the system. I really chose ITEP because I wanted to have my university experience around people with the same mindset and end goal as myself. I knew within this program, I would be encouraged and given all of the education I need to pursue a future as an Indigenous educator.

Why is leadership important to you?
I’ve always valued leadership because having a voice and a leader to pave the way for others, you are only as strong as the person who leads you. Leadership for me started when I was 15 and became an advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as a youth ambassador for Miss Manito Ahbee. I spoke nationally to raise awareness and after I completed my reign, I continued to speak on topics that I strongly believe in. Now I am working on making a virtual Indigenous youth conference for June 2021. I find it is important to focus youth and to influence culture whenever possible.

How have your studies developed your knowledge, skills and leadership?
So far, my studies have really challenged my perspective on what I thought I knew was education. In ITEP they incorporate culture and understanding into everything and it is so easy to relate to and be yourself. I did not experience this in my education journey before ITEP. I walk with one foot in a moccasin and the other in a shoe, meaning that I walk with my traditions and Lakota/Cree identity while also navigating the world through a western influence. I really value what my studies have influenced in my life and I’m so excited to keep going on my university education journey.

Has someone in your life inspired you to get to where you are today?
I really owe everything that I am to my family. They are the backbone and my influence. My parents always encouraged a healthy lifestyle and supported all my aspirations. I could only dream to pursue or to become half of what my parents are. My three sisters also always supported and helped make my journey easier to walk.

This year’s Indigenous Achievement Week theme is nīkānihk itohtētān, walking together into the future. What does this mean to you?
It means to me that we are all united and working together to achieve and lead with the intentions to better our future.

Tell us anything about yourself that you would like us to share.

I am really thankful for this award and opportunity to be featured. I appreciate the efforts of USask for continuing their best efforts and abilities during this difficult time. I also want to encourage all the students at USask to keep going and striving for that end goal!

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