Back in 2010 I was still just a kid from the rez. I didn’t know anything about the world. There’s still a lot to learn about the world. But back then, I woke up at 6:30 am made a pot of coffee in the morning like I did every day. I would check my class and meeting schedule with a really great calendar app that I had. I used to catch transit so I would try to pack as light as possible. A textbook is about 20lbs so I would pick my favourite class for the day and only take that book. I used to go to Boot Camp in between classes so I also had to pack my gym gear. I would eat a banana for breakfast and would pack a lunch. If I was lucky or planning ahead, my sandwich would be bannock with roast beef. If I wasn’t in a cooking mood, it would be wonderbread and bologna. Lol. The kind that gets stuck to the roof of your mouth with every bite. It was the time of the Vancouver Olympics and I remember watching the opening ceremonies and being inspired by how much First Nations participation there was. Back at home we had a group of community members who carried the Olympic flame so that was cool.
One thing that really had an impact one me was the 2008/2009 recession. I remember being a 1stand 2ndyear business student taking Principles of Micro and Macro Economics and every day in the news hearing about recession, bail outs, credit crunch. I used to think that I had never ever heard of these things on the rez and really wanted to understand them. I’ve always watched politics and I remember at the time that when Stephen Harper, an economist, prorogued parliament, it stood out to me as a brilliant tactic. It was an exciting time because the arguments during the elections at the time featured a lot of discussion about macro economics and it was really exciting to be able to go to class and talk about what happened or what was said. In 2010 I declared Economics as my major for years 3 and 4. It was an exclusive club as there were only 9 students in my economics cohort in the business school. What I didn’t know was that it would put me in an even more exclusive club as one of very few Indigenous people in the country who studied economics.
Throughout my later years in University, I became involved in the Ch’nook Scholars as an Indigenous business student. It was an incredible opportunity to meet indigenous business students from across the province. I still get a laugh about the one day in advance of our first conference at UBC, the program sent out an email saying that dress code is business. Me being a kid from the rez, I didn’t know what business dress is! I still wore jeans and a t-shirt at the time. I splurged and bought a $20 button down shirt from Sears instead of the $10 one from Walmart and was able to find a really nice red striped tie on sale. A day before we left I was in marketing class and my instructor was talking about presenting ourselves as professionals. I had my tie with me and so after class I asked her to show me how to tie a tie. She told me to watch youtube if I needed a reminder, which I did. I also remember the feeling of being on the plane with my friends who were also attending from TRU, watching the deep blue and orange sun set from above the clouds for the first time ever, and saying “I never thought I would be important enough for someone to pay for a flight for me to go to a meeting.”