Leigh Thomas

Leigh Thomas dances his way to success in the Regional and Urban Planning program

This week the University of Saskatchewan is celebrating the successes and contributions of Métis, First Nations and Inuit students, staff and faculty through Indigenous Achievement Week.

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 Leigh Thomas—a third-year Regional and Urban Planning student from Chitek Lake—who is receiving an award for his academic excellence.

Thomas is particularly interested in Indigenous planning in the 21st century through community-led initiatives, traditional Indigenous governance systems and integrating Indigenous ways of knowing into planning practices.

We caught up with Thomas to ask him a few questions about what motivates him.

What drew you to the Regional and Urban Planning program?
Fate, I originally set out to complete a Bachelor of Science, in anatomy and cell biology. Life and change happened to me and my family, now I’m taking this amazing program that I love!  

You have an interest in Indigenous planning in the 21st century through community-led initiatives, specifically integrating Indigenous ways of knowing into planning practices. What would a city look like if we were to apply Indigenous ways of knowing into planning practices?
I would see the application of this knowledge, especially in Saskatchewan and Canada, as an amazing opportunity for decreasing the effects of racism on people of colour living here. Everything would be changed and better for all future generations. I will also add, we will see once I get there.  

What advice would you give to a first-year indigenous student?
Dance every day, love every day, and be thankful for the opportunity to be a student. It goes by quick, hang in there and keep going.  

What plans do you have for the future?

  1. Finish this degree
  2. Travel
  3. Write books and go further with my education.

Who  in your life inspired you to get to where you are today?
I inspire myself most days, but when I can’t, I call my sister Bern and she makes my day better. She has always been a stable person in my life. She has continuously helped throughout by advising and supporting me in every adventure I have ever experienced. Even through our tough times she has always gone above and beyond to help me. 


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.

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