Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I'll follow my matrilineal cultural traditions and protocols by positioning my Ts’msyen cultural connections first. My wil’naat’al (matrilineal bloodline) is Ts’msyen from Lax Kw’alaams (Island of Wild Roses) in British Columbia. I practice my Indigenous culture and traditions through my Sigyidm Hana’a (matriarchal) teachings within my Ts’mysen cultural traditions. I belong to Waap Liyaa’mlaxha, a Gisbutwada (Blackfish) House in the Gitaxangiik Tribe. I only position my father’s people second because I have never had the opportunity to establish a stronger connection to my father’s tribe, given that he passed away when I was a baby. But I love and have a deep connection to both of my Indigenous blood lines. My father’s bloodline is Oglala, Sioux (Lakota), from Pine Ridge. The decision to pursue a graduate degree was undertaken to allow myself the chance to achieve my ambitions, and improve the quality of my life. I know that the decision to undertake the graduate degree as a cis-gendered, Indigenous man would be the most difficult challenge of my life. However, I wanted to meet the challenge head on and continue on my academic journey until the end to complete the PhD program. I am currently working to achieve my dream of finishing the PhD program.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
The decision to study at UBC was always my first choice in academic institutions. This is my own personal opinion, I wanted the opportunity to study and learn research from some of the best minds in the research field. At first, I was not entirely sure on my direction within the area of research at UBC. But, through my studies, I have found that the PhD program was, and is, a journey of self discovery. The PhD program refined my skills as a writer, contributed to my ambitions to learn research, and finally, I found myself as a Indigenous researcher. I am grateful and fortunate to be given the opportunity to be in the PhD in Social Work program.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
In the UBC School of Social Work PhD program, I was offered the chance to continue to learn and grow in the academic setting. I wanted the best opportunity to refine and grow as a young researcher.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The best surprise for me about the UBC way of life was finding a sense of community inside and on campus. I am happy and content as an Indigenous researcher living on campus and being able to socialize with other Indigenous academics.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I love challenges. I am excited and nervous as a PhD student to move into my comprehensive exams. But, the challenge of writing the exams is something I am both curious and excited to undertake.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I have found every stage of the PhD in Social Work program to be very challenging from course work, comprehensive exams, research proposal, to research and dissertation. I am not the most gifted student academically, and every stage has huge challenges. But I love the challenge and will never give up.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
The PhD in Social Work program is preparing me for all the challenges during my studies. I have found great professors to support my journey through the program.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
The aspect of canoeing, of never giving up and to keep canoeing forward, I have found to be the greatest teaching that prepared me for the PhD program.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I love to stay healthy through my fitness goals. During the school year, I workout in the UBC Fitness centre. But, during the warmer months of the year, I am outdoors hiking and canoeing. The outdoors allow for me to be grounded during the harder months of my studies.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Attending a graduate program at UBC was the best choice I ever made in life. I look back at the challenges and learning experiences through my years in graduate programs at UBC. These learning experiences help to motivate my present and future academic goals.