Tina Mitchell completed the Kanawayihetaytan Askiy Certificate remotely from her home in Quebec, while continuing her professional career. (Photo: Submitted)
Tina Mitchell completed the Kanawayihetaytan Askiy Certificate remotely from her home in Quebec, while continuing her professional career. (Photo: Submitted)

USask Kanawayihetaytan Askiy graduate committed to lifelong learning

A love of lifelong learning and commitment to her community inspired Tina Mitchell to pursue the Kanawayihetaytan Askiy Certificate from the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan.

By Brett Makulowich

Mitchell will officially receive her Kanawayihetaytan Askiy (KA) Certificate at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Spring Convocation taking place June 6–10. She will also be honoured at the USask Indigenous Graduation Celebration on June 3. Both of these celebrations will be held in-person at Merlis Belsher Place.  

Kanawayihetaytan Askiy means “let us take care of the land” in Cree. The program examines environmental, legal and economic aspects of land and resource management in Indigenous communities. Students learn about Indigenous rights, strategic planning, land use planning, traditional knowledge, resource management, intellectual property law, and project management. This pivotal program attracts students from across Canada.

Mitchell is a member of the Mohawks of Akwesasne, located on the border of the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and the state of New York.

For the past 28 years, she has been employed by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) in a variety of positions, the majority being in the Office of Vital Statistics (OVS). OVS handles lands, estates, registration, membership, and leasing for MCA. Since June 2021, she has held the position of program manager for OVS. 

“I’ve always strived to serve my community to the best of my ability and taken on training opportunities to provide me with the tools to do my job effectively and efficiently for both the organization and our members,” said Mitchell.

The KA Certificate at USask was recommended to Mitchell by graduates of the program. She was able to take the program remotely from her home in Quebec, without interrupting her professional career.

“I was able to relate much of what we learned in the KA program to my work experience, and it made a world of difference,” said Mitchell. “The Mohawks of Akwesasne have land within New York State, Ontario, and Quebec. In order to get from the Quebec portion to the Ontario portion, we have to drive through New York State. We also deal with five different types of government. It’s complicated!”

Mitchell’s favourite class in the KA program was Field Studies in the Environment, taught by Dr. Melissa Arcand (PhD).

“It required us to be outside in several locations, taking soil samples, etc. It was a breath of fresh air to form our own conclusions with hands-on learning.”

Mitchell’s commitment to her studies was recognized by the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources. In March 2022, Mitchell received an USask Indigenous Achievement Award for Academic Excellence.

A commitment to learning is important to Mitchell, who is a proud mother of five and grandmother of five.

“I have always enjoyed learning new things and continuing my education is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” said Mitchell. “Now that my children are old enough, I decided to go back to obtain this training. I want to advance within my organization and completion of this training will help me do that.”

Mitchell plans to use what she learned in the KA Certificate for her role as a program manager for OVS. 

“OVS handles all lands related transactions for the Akwesasne community, and we are currently in negotiations to develop a self-government agreement. It is my hope to use my new training to ensure that we will be successful in taking over delegated duties once the self-government agreement is successful and that we will have excellent service delivery.”