Morgan Longjohn received an award for resiliency at this year’s Indigenous Student Achievement Awards. (Photo: Submitted)

Political studies student overcame challenges to get here and is now pursuing a degree with the intent to help others

Morgan Longjohn, a member of Sturgeon Lake First Nation, is in her third year of political studies with the College of Arts and Science at the Prince Albert campus of the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

By Kim Fontaine

Longjohn is a Plains Cree single mother who has overcome significant challenges, including trauma, addiction and homelessness. After getting clean, and with support from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Morgan has excelled academically and professionally, having already reached thousands of First Nations people struggling with addiction, incarceration and poverty. Morgan is pursuing a degree to increase her impact on improving the lives of others.

Longjohn is being recognized with a resiliency award at this year’s Indigenous Student Achievement Awards, to be held virtually on Feb. 4, 2021. The awards honours USask Indigenous students in recognition of their academic excellence, leadership, research, community engagement and resiliency.

The award ceremony is part of Indigenous Achievement Week (IAW), which celebrates 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. IAW also offers up a series of online events and workshops that everyone is welcome to participate in.

We asked Morgan a few questions about her journey at USask.

Why did you choose the Political Studies program? 

I am fascinated with our ever-changing society. Through the College of Arts and Science I have developed a greater appreciation for current events, politics and justice. To pursue a degree in Political Studies, which has an admirable Indigenous perspective will be my next great achievement.

What has helped you stay motivated and committed to your studies? 

My family motivates me, my dad and three children. There are many friends and others in the community who motivate as well.

The opportunity to study at the University of Saskatchewan is encouraging, too. I can keep motivated and committed by being a part of something greater than myself.

Has someone in your life inspired you to get where you are today?

There are two Indigenous women who inspired me in my lifetime, both are from Sturgeon Lake First Nation—my late Mother Sandra Naytowhow and my late Auntie Joan Longjohn. In the early 1990s, both women were well-educated and successful. This was during a time when educated, Indigenous women in society were emerging and not very popular. What they were able to accomplish inspires me to keep going forward.

What are your goals for the future?  

  • To get a master’s degree and PhD
  • To be an interactive part of the driving force of socio-economic change and improvement of Indigenous lives in society.
  • To be a positive role model and woman in leadership with my career aspirations in areas like health care or social services and the justice system.
  • To help others overcome barriers to succeed

This year’s Indigenous Achievement Week theme is nikanihk itohtetan, walking together into the future. What does this mean to you?

It can mean times are progressing forward and it is for the greater good of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people locally, nationally and globally. I believe our best state is walking together in all aspects of life.

Anything about yourself to share?

I am Plains Cree from Sturgeon Lake First Nation and I would also like to acknowledge the Creator for this award.