This year, the fourth-year Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) student came close to perfection in her course Literacy Across the Elementary Curriculum. She received 99 per cent for her overall mark. Her professor, Beverly Brenna, says it’s the first time she’s given such a high mark in her long career. Brenna described Gareau’s academic work as “absolutely stellar.”
Gareau, who comes from Lac La Ronge Indian Band, will be receiving an award for her academic excellence at this year’s Indigenous Student Achievement Awards (ISAA) on Feb. 7. Indigenous students from across the University of Saskatchewan (USask) will be honoured at a ceremony to recognize their academic excellence, leadership, research endeavours or community engagement.
The ISAA is part of Indigenous Achievement Week (IAW) which celebrates the successes and contributions of Métis, First Nations and Inuit students, staff and faculty. The festivities include a public art project, speakers and celebrations in various locations across campus.
We asked Gareau a few questions about her time at USask and what motivates her.
Why did you choose ITEP?
I must admit that my first year of university was dedicated to my pursuit in the dentistry field. I soon discovered that this was not the field for me, and turned to education. I chose ITEP because of its family oriented system. I spent my childhood playing “teacher”, using my chalkboard, my school books, and my teacher voice; this is where my passion is rooted from. I have always been a caring, generous, honest, and responsible person and I definitely plan on using these values in the classroom. Why did I choose ITEP? Because ITEP was the only program that I could relate to, not only due to my Indigenous heritage, but also because of its caring, generous, honest, and responsible system. I am so thrilled that I chose ITEP to complete my Bachelor of Education. I cannot imagine it any other way, not only because of my culture, but because of the support that I have gained through the completion of this program. ITEP’s staff has always been strong and encouraging, and for me this was the key for my journey of becoming an educator. I appreciate the ITEP family and will always thank and honour them in all of my future endeavours.
What advice would you give to a first-year Indigenous student?
The very first piece of advice I would give to you is to have an open-mind. At many times on your journey, you will meet people with different opinions, different perspectives, and that come from many different cultures with many different traditions. The important thing to keep in mind is that not everyone has to be the same to get along. The great thing about ITEP for me, was that we could all share our own personal opinions without feeling as though we were being judged. That being said, before stating facts, make sure you’ve done your research and that you are not stating these facts to hurt others. This encompasses my second piece of advice: Respect. Having a sense of respect towards not only your classmates, your professors, and those around you; but also towards yourself. This will prove to be useful in any passion you choose.
What plans do you have for the future?
I am currently completing my extended practicum in my hometown. I am so grateful for the opportunity to return to my home to put my passion to the test. I cannot wait to plan my units, my lessons, and all of my activities for my classroom. After this fun and exciting chapter in my life, and after completing two more courses, I plan to teach in my hometown, hopefully with a full-time contract. I want to use a holistic teaching method in my future classroom, so that all of my students can learn and grow in a balanced and healthy environment. I cannot wait to put to work the many resources, activities, methods, tools, and more that have been taught to me by my wonderful professors. Thank you.
Has there been someone in your life who has inspired you to get to where you are today?
Throughout my childhood and throughout my university journey, there have been many people who have inspired me on becoming who I am today. There are certainly some that have stuck out to me. Specifically, I would like to honour my parents who have always supported me in my challenges, and my successes. This type of encouragement and support is what has kept me going on this wonderful road to success. No matter how trying the times can get, they have reminded me that “everything will be okay” and everything does always work out. I would not be where I am today without them and I cannot thank them enough for their inspiration.
This year’s theme of the Indigenous Achievement Week is Powerful Voices. If there is one thing you can use your voice for in this moment what would it be for?
I know how important it was for me to always have someone there to guide me and to help me through my ITEP journey. I want to honour and thank those who have been there for me, by being there for others. I want to use my voice as encouragement, support, and inspiration for all of those who may need it.