The festivities include artistic performances, speakers’ panels and lectures in various locations across campus.
Each year, there is an awards ceremony to honour Indigenous students and to recognize their academic accomplishments, leadership, research endeavours or community volunteerism.
One of the award winners this year is Jacob Genaille-Dustyhorn — a second-year student in the College of Education — who is receiving an award for his community involvement.
Genaille-Dustyhorn belongs to Cumberland House First Nation and graduated from Bedford Road Collegiate. He is an academically talented student who is a leader in Indian Teacher Education Program and a leader in the College of Education as a peer mentor. In his role he provides insight and support to students in the college as they train to become teachers.
We caught up with Genaille-Dustyhorn to ask him a few questions about what motivates him.
What drew you to the College of Education?
I came to the University of Saskatchewan to get ahead in life. When I was done high school in 2014, I did not do a whole lot, nor did I give any sort of thought for my future. I started working as an intern at CHEP Good Food Inc., along with a group of teachers. During the time I was working. I was told I would be a great teacher, and from then on being a teacher was the path I was to go down. Hearing my co-worker tell me I would be a great teacher sparked a goal that I wanted to achieve. It also gave me something to look forward to and something to work towards.
You received the award for your work in the community. Can you talk about one person in your community who has been a role model to you?
In my community, my GREATEST role model is my mother. My mother, a single mother, raised four boys on her own. My older brothers went down a life without education, and my mother always told me to go to school, so I can be successful on my own. Everything I do, I do to make my mother proud of me, and every time she says, ‘I am proud of you!’ I think of another way to make her say it once again because it is so good to hear it come from her!
You provide insight and support to students in the College of Education. Can you talk about why that work is important to you?
I am a peer mentor in the College of Education. I was offered the role by Jade Ryan. I was hesitant at first because I felt like I was not the man for the job. But after a short thought process, I knew I could do anything I put my mind to. Being a peer mentor has given me the chance to talk about what it is like to be an Indigenous male in a university setting. Also, being a role model to other students makes me feel like I am not just giving them information out of a textbook, like a teacher would do, I am giving them real advice from my personal experiences. An Elder once told me, “Stories and knowledge do not belong to our Elders, nor me, nor you, they belong to our future generations.” Hearing that Elder say that to me has given me strength to not be afraid to tell all people information about anything. I will pass my information to another person, and I will always tell them to do the same.
What advice would you give a young person from Cumberland House thinking of moving to Saskatoon to attend school at the U of S?
I would tell any young person to come to the city of Saskatoon for the beautiful scenery of the campus and the city. There are also a lot more opportunities throughout the university. But, the biggest thing I would tell them is to not be afraid to try something new, because it could lead to something greater!
What are your plans for the future?
For my future, the first thing is to finish school, while working during the springs and summers. After I am done school, I am hoping to find a job in the city, but if not, there will always be something else available for me. During that time, maybe I will find myself someone to start a family with and become the greatest dad ever! But I believe everything happens for a reason. So, whatever will happen, will happen because it is shaping me into the man I am made to be.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
To learn more about the events that are taking place this week, be sure to check out the Indigenous Achievement Week website.