Sinoski is a fourth-year Métis student in the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education (SUNTEP) Program. Those around him note that he excels both in his academic studies and as a USask Huskie volleyball player. He does so while demonstrating consistent respect, humility and dignity.
Sinoski will be receiving an award for his leadership 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 Sinoski a few questions about his time at USask and what motivates him.
Why did you choose SUNTEP?
I chose SUNTEP because I wanted my university experience and teacher education program to be rooted in Indigenous worldview and understandings. I am fortunate to have many role models in my family who graduated from SUNTEP, and I knew that through this program I would not only learn more about my Métis heritage, but join a community of learning teachers focused on making a difference for Indigenous students. Also, I believed at SUNTEP I would have the opportunity to develop close relationships with professors, advisors and fellow students, and this has happened.
What lessons are you learning from balancing your life as a student and your life as a Huskie athlete?
The lessons I have learned as a Huskie student-athlete span far beyond the classroom and the volleyball court. It is true that I have needed to develop strategies for time-management so I can meet my academic and athletic goals and responsibilities, but I have also learned it is important find time to spend with friends and family to recharge so I can work towards my goals. Another important lesson came out of a conversation with a teammate surrounding the Huskie men’s volleyball team when he said, “leave it better than you found it.” My experiences at SUNTEP and Huskie volleyball have been profoundly life changing. I have travelled throughout Canada, the United States and Japan experiencing new languages, cultures, history and developing my volleyball skills. I am hopeful that when I leave this program, my legacy as a Huskie Athlete will be positive. I also know that as an alumnus, I will continue to contribute to the programs.
What advice would you give to a first-year Indigenous student?
The best advice I can give a first-year Indigenous student is to reach out and ask for help. There are so many supports here on campus focused on helping you succeed in your studies. The Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre, and the Indigenous Students Council are places where you will find community and guides to support you. Never be afraid to ask for help, someone will always be able to guide you in the right direction! Finally, find a community of like-minded students who have the same interests that you have and look to surround yourself with those who “kindle your fire.”
What plans do you have for the future?
I am focusing on developing my skills as an elite volleyball player, so I am able to play professionally in Europe and earn the opportunity to try out for roster spot on the Canadian Men’s Team for the next Olympic cycle. When my playing career has ended, I will return to my home community of Prince Albert to teach in the public school system. I have been fortunate to work in the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School system as an Educational Associate while attending university and am hopeful that I can also teach in this system.
Has there been someone in your life who has inspired you to get to where you are today?
My parents have been the inspiration in my life, and the reason I have been fortunate enough to be successful as a student and athlete. Without their constant support and encouragement, I would not be here. Paige and Chris have sacrificed so much of their time to help me become the best student-athlete possible. I can only hope to become as strong, compassionate, and caring as both of them.
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?
Teaching is such a unique and rewarding profession. SUNTEP affords me the opportunity to give back to my community, and to serve as a positive Métis role model for my students. In this moment, I will continue to advocate for education that is culturally responsive, and values Indigenous worldview. As an Indigenous student and future educator it is my responsibility to always challenge injustice and work towards educating toward reconciliation. My hope is that my future students will grow to be respectful, empathetic and caring citizens as a result of being actively engaged in acts of reconciliation and culturally affirming learning opportunities. My voice must become part of the movement that builds a future where all citizens in Saskatchewan acknowledge we are all treaty people, and believe we must all benefit equally.