USask law student Jodi Hancheroff wants to inspire incoming Indigenous students through her own academic journey. (Photo: Submitted)

Indigenous law student chasing her childhood dream

Second-year law student Jodi Hancheroff is proud to be one of this year’s recipients of an Indigenous Student Achievement Award.

Hancheroff was one of the Indigenous students from across the university who were honoured for their academic achievement, leadership, research, resiliency, and community engagement during the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) 2021 Indigenous Achievement Week Awards on Feb. 4.

A Woodland Cree woman from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in northern Saskatchewan, Hancheroff is recognized for leadership in her community and in the College of Law.

“It has not been easy manoeuvring law school during a global pandemic; I often wonder if I’ve taken on too much or if I’m not putting in enough effort into my work, but this award will serve as a sign of my resiliency going forward.”

In her third year of studying Indigenous studies at Northlands College, in partnership with USask, Hancheroff applied and was accepted in the Juris Doctor (JD) program at USask’s College of Law. She also took the Indigenous Law Centre’s summer program, which she credits for preparing her for law classes.

Upon starting her new academic journey, she quickly became passionate in taking leadership roles. Hancheroff is currently the president of the university’s Indigenous Law Students’ Association, and known for case summary contributions at ProBono Students Saskatchewan in partnership with the Indigenous Law Centre at USask.

Outside of the student group, Hancheroff volunteers with Level’s Indigenous Youth Outreach Program, an initiative that helps expose Indigenous youth to the justice system in a positive and culturally-empowering way. In addition, she is also a teaching assistant for the Academic Success program and for the College of Law course Kwayeskastasowin, Setting Things Right.

As the first in her family to pursue post-secondary education, she is determined to excel both in academics and extracurricular activities. In her first year of studies, Hancheroff was awarded the Mohinder Chadha Award in Law, a $2000 entrance scholarship established by USask alumna Ms. Ena Chadha and her father Rajinder Chadha, in memory of Ena’s mother, Mohinder.

Preserving her values and beliefs, Hancheroff is motivated to ensure that Indigenous voices are heard.

“It’s important to Indigenize spaces like the university to represent who we are as a people, because we’re each so unique for what we bring to the table.”

Hancheroff recalled her childhood ambitions of becoming a lawyer as she grew up. Her strong work ethic, along with her interests in law, have brought her one step closer to achieving her dream.

“I used to struggle with my dream of becoming a lawyer because I’m coming from an Indigenous worldview, and it’s really hard to integrate myself into a colonial institution.”

Hancheroff’s long-term goals are to contribute to the developing area of Indigenous law. After graduation, she hopes to return to her community and use this knowledge and experience to start her own practice and contribute towards legal processes involving Indigenous people.

Share this story