Indigenous Student Experience

Today I posted on my tumblr account earlier that I was going to write a blog post about another lovely year-end university experience.

It was kind of similar to last year except … worse.

I had an interview last week for a position with Ethnocultural Support Services aka ESS (a position I had no idea was there until someone told me “hey you should apply to that!”) So, I applied to it. No biggie. Part of the application process was to tell them why you are best fit for the position, why you want to fill the position and what type of improvements would you make to the position.

The position was for First Nations Liaison.

Last year, I wrote about my experience in applying to a non-First Nations student position, and how I felt like I was being typed after the person recommended I apply to a First Nations specific position within the University Students Council. You can read that post HERE.

Here is the specific email response last year:

Sorry it took a few days for me to get back to you. Should you ever have any questions at all about how to get involved with Campus Issues, or about applications next year, I am more than happy to meet with you on any occasion. 

 Also, I would reccomend you look at the executive application for Director of First Nations Students. I know you are very passionate in this area and I think it would be a great fit for you. The application can be found on the USC website

I didn’t apply to the position because I wasn’t interested in applying to it. Guess I should have applied!

Now with the most recent experience, it was worse off because not only did I NOT get the position, they also asked in that same email, if I could implement my idea in the coming school year OUTSIDE the realm of the position.

That email went something like this:

First of all thank you so much for your interest in the position for First Nations Liaison. There is a lot of work needed in that area, and it has been neglected for too long. This year we had a high level of interest for ESS executive positions as compared to last year. ESS is growing and hopefully will be even bigger next year. Also I want to thank you for coming in to do an interview, we had some great dialogue,

With that being sad, I cannot offer you a position on ESS this year. Your interview was amazing and so was your application. I would love to work with you on getting a couple of the workshops that you offer available to all students. I hope this does not discourage you from your interest in helping the indigenous community. I am always looking for individuals who are willing to help, and who are passionate.

I hope you have a great summer, and can’t wait to see you in the new school year.

While in this most recent interview, there were several red flags that I was unsure how to interpret. The first one was that one of the interviewers was late and then proceeded to ask me questions that I already answered (had she been there on time, I would not have to repeat myself). This is interesting because it left me feeling with the hunch that whoever is filling the position was already picked. Another contributing factor those feelings was that this interview was almost scheduled on the fly… meaning I got an email and there was a sense of urgency to get it done and out of the way. It all sounded fishy to me. After talking it over with my mom about these feelings, she blatantly stated, “I wonder if these interviews are just there to appear to be democratic but in reality don’t really serve a purpose because they already picked someone.” It could very well be considering the interviewer had a sense of urgency in getting these interviews done with and that the other interviewer was late.

What is the problem with that you ask? Well, their complete disregard for professionalism.

While in the interview, I also grew weary of my involvement with this particular group. The one interviewer (who was late) asked what my thoughts were on last year’s USC decision to remove the First Nations commissioner position. All I could think of was, WTF! This question sounds more political than trying to find out what my relevant skills/qualifications in filling the position would be. I answered it and I answered it truthfully. To sum it up, there was a HUGE lack of consultation with respect to this decision, and anyone on campus would agree with me whether they wanted to keep it or not. I could also tell that there was huge lack of consultation on these two new positions that they put in. One position works with in a policy/external capacity and another works with ESS. Both positions make reference to and only to First Nations students; thereby excluding Metis and Innu students. Exactly.

Both of these positions are supposedly for better representation for Indigenous students?! Clearly whoever made those positions didn’t have their thinking cap on.

Being my nice self, I gave these guys the benefit of the doubt. However, after being denied the position (which I am ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY 100% fine with) but then in the same email being asked if my proposal can be implemented in the coming school year outside the realm of the position, I thought FUCK YOU! 

Yes. There I said it. That is what I originally wanted to write but I didn’t.

This is what I replied with:

Thanks for the email and for allowing me the opportunity to sit down with and **********. 

I am sure the person that you have chosen is very well capable and just as enthusiastic in being a part of ESS. With that being said, I am sure that they are capable enough to have their own proposal(s)/ideas implemented, and I don’t wish to work with you to offer my workshops to other students. I have other means and avenues to implement these workshops. Alas, your decision will not affect my involvement with the Indigenous community.

Some of you might think that this post is unprofessional and that it is probably best I don’t get the position. Maybe not. Yet,  if there is one thing that I can remember being told it is this…

If you are going to want to see change and if you are going to want to get things done, you are just going to have to do it…with or without the everyone else! 

So, I am going to continue to get things done and I will work hard to see change because at the end of next month, I will be implementing my proposal (because I already received the funding to get it implemented and also will be working directly with Indigenous services)!

So, the interviewer was right in the email denying my qualification for the position: THIS won’t discourage my interest in helping the Indigenous community…


So what does this mean for other Indigenous students? Don’t ever ever ever and I mean EVER get discouraged! If someone tells you that you didn’t get a position or that you are unable to fill a certain role, don’t let that stop you in making the change that you want to see happen! Change doesn’t happen when you just give up because someone tells you “Sorry, but you didn’t make the cut.” As an Indigenous student to other Indigenous students, I will close with this…

Our experiences, whether they are collective, shared, or individual experiences, skills and knowledge, whether experiential or professional, are EXTREMELY INVALUABLE! Some people get paid BIG BUCKS to distribute/implement/consult on the information/knowledge/experience that some of you have! If you want to be valued as a student who has unique experiences a part from the rest–acknowledged this and don’t ever settle for less than what you BELIEVE you are worth!

In addition to the above, there are usually other groups on either my campus or your campus that are involved with Indigenous issues directly OR indirectly. For instance, on my campus, we have the First Nations Student Association which does AWESOME work and has EVEN AWESOME-R events on campus. There is also v-day which deals with violence against women (which is a huge issue for Indigenous women) and there are also political groups (where 2 of the parties in Canada have 2 Aboriginal People’s Commissions–like the Liberal Party of Canada). There are MANY MANY MANY ways to get involved. Just don’t let one or even two emails rain on your parade ❤

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