This is the fourth time the U of S has hosted Indigenous Spend-a-Day. The Oct. 26 event had the highest attendance rate so far in the event’s history, with more than 300 students attending from across Saskatchewan.
“This event provides Indigenous students with the opportunity to discover and explore the vast array of opportunities that exist for them throughout the university,” said Jacqueline Ottmann, vice-provost of Indigenous engagement. “They get to experience the university’s colleges and the professional careers that they offer, and in doing so they walk away with tangible images and answers to their questions. In essence, this day begins to build a bridge from their high school experience to their future in the university, if this is what they choose to do.”
Rollin Baldhead, president of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union, was the event MC. Baldhead asked the young Indigenous alumni panel, featuring Nathan Oakes (BSc’18), Courtney Roy (BComm’18), Feather Pewapisconias-McKee (BEd’16) and Zoey Roy (BEd’17), what advice they would give prospective students.
Pewapisconias-McKee, a graduate of the College of Education SUNTEP program, spoke to students about the importance of becoming involved and trying new things at university.
“I wanted to grab any opportunity that I could when I was in university,” said Pewapisconias-McKee.
Students had their choice of 20 different interactive sessions to attend, ranging from medicine to drama to business. A popular session was STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). The session was hosted by the Aboriginal Student Achievement Program STEM Pathways and the Indigenous Peoples Initiative Community Engineering Access Program team. During the session students participated in a vertical design challenge, in which they created a paper structure that could hold light weights.
“The vertical design challenge was a fun way to get students interested in STEM, and to let them know about the access and support programs that are available here at the U of S,” said Matt Dunn, Indigenous Peoples initiatives co-ordinator in the College of Engineering at the U of S. “The creativity of the designs was impressive. We definitely had some future engineers and scientists in the room.”
“Events like Indigenous Spend-a-Day are invaluable to bringing clarity to the dreams and aspirations of Indigenous youth. For the university, we have a full day to communicate the supports we have for them when they get here,” said Ottmann, who is Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) and a member of Saskatchewan’s Fishing Lake First Nation. “I was so encouraged to learn that, this year, we’ve had the largest group of youth from various parts of our province. As we know these youth will be our future, so we need to do everything we can to support their educational journey.”