By Kelly Crawford
BAAWAATING — Student chooses educational journey based on cultural supports and programming that will support change for his community.
Quinn Meawasige, citizen of Serpent River First Nation, graduated with an Honours Degree in Community Economic and Social Development and an Anishinaabemowin Certificate from Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig.
“I chose Algoma University because they offered cultural supports and they had a good relationship with Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, which offers Anishinaabemowin and Anishinaabe-specific studies.”
Meawasige specifically chose to stay in Northern Ontario to be close to home and be able to participate and be involved in his home community.
“I chose this program because it is centered around building up community, by using strengths within the community to address the gaps within the community. I wanted to gain some skills on how to keep the community engaged and to become drivers of change, of moving forward, so that the community has ownership over the process, the change.”
He became part of the school and the Baawaating community. The students were facing cuts to their Indigenous student government that advocates on behalf of Indigenous students.
“The Indigenous students came together and fought for an increase instead of a decrease. We stood stead fast in our efforts and came out with an increase. Many of those Indigenous students were in their final year and would be graduating the following year but they stood up for those students who will be coming in the future years.”
Currently, many students are entering into their second month of post-secondary studies across Turtle Island. Meawasige provides some clear advice to support success.
“Apply for grants, scholarships and bursaries. Seek out assistance in ways such as seeking out a tutor— I have, and they made the difference of a pass or fail. If your class has a tutorial, ATTEND IT! It can also make a difference of a pass or fail.”
Meawasige pointed out the most significant influences through his educational journey.
“Elders, ceremony, community, youth, ancestors, the teaching that we must look out for those who are yet to be born.”
He encourages all students to seek out the supports offered by the Indigenous student support services.
“There is often a community that exists within the Indigenous student support space or lounge as well that can help students feel supported, that they belong, home, family.”
He supports the creation of transitional supports from high school to post-secondary.
“For some students, it may be the first time that they leave home, or the reserve, and those supports are important.”
Some examples of transitional supports that could be offered in high school are financial literacy, budgeting, food prep and cooking, leases, grant/bursary/scholarship applications and navigating numerous applications that will be put on the table.
Photo Credit: Tammy Fiegehen Photography