Diploma in First Peoples Studies in Books – The Eastern Door

Courtesy of Savannah Matteini-Gabriel

At the start of an academic journey, most people have an idea of ​​what they would like to do or at least that is often the perception.

But in reality, this is not always the case. For Kanehsata’kehró:non Savannah Matteini-Gabriel, who recently graduated with honors from Concordia University’s Indigenous Peoples Studies, the path to graduation has been bumpy at times.

“I did my BA in First Peoples Studies and chose it because I felt compelled to go to college and I knew there was no math or science,” she says. laughing. “It feels good to be done! And that’s a relief. »

One of the highlights of her experience was the support she felt from her Indigenous peers, making meaningful connections and a sense of community at the start of her senior year.

“I started to meet a lot of people and make new friends. Especially in the Native Student Center (Otsenhákta Student Center). I started going there a lot and that’s where I met a lot nice people,” she said.

She explained that most of the friends she made at the center were from different communities across the country, but they were united by their experience as Indigenous students at a huge institution like Concordia.

“Honestly, we were just listening to each other and sharing our experiences, and it was nice to know that we were never really alone. If something happened to one of us, it usually happened to someone too. else,” Matteini-Gabriel said.

The 23-year-old explained that although she is very passionate about indigenous languages ​​and cultures, her program left a lot to be desired.

“The program itself needs a lot of work. I felt and still feel that it’s primarily aimed at non-native students. And it was a lot of things that I already knew just by being indigenous,” said the young woman.

“The curriculum is being reviewed because there are a lot of things that have happened to not only me but other students. A lot of the teachers were also non-indigenous. I just felt it was very disorganized.

However, she feels the school is trying to improve it and thinks it is very important for the next cohort of students entering the program.

“I felt there were more Aboriginal students in the program overall towards the end. And they also felt the same way I did about the program, so we bonded over that,” Matteini-Gabriel said.

“Listening to Indigenous students is important to me because most of the time we were saying things and no one was listening to us,” she said.

She believes there is also a need to increase the number of Indigenous faculty in other programs, such as Psychology and English, not just Indigenous Peoples Studies.

The pandemic also put a damper on her experience as she really missed meeting people. Despite Matteini-Gabriel’s mixed feelings about her background, education has always been a source of pride for her.

Before university, the young graduate went to Vanier College, where she obtained her degree in social sciences – with honors. She said she loves academic validation and has always strived for excellence.

She thanks her mother and father, Angela Gabriel and Moreno Matteini, for their unwavering support and dedication to her success.

“My parents drove me to town – all of CEGEP too. I know I’m very lucky to have that because a lot of people don’t have parents who are willing to do that for them, and they just don’t have access to education, so I I’m very lucky that my parents worked hard to get me through this.

Gabriel said that while she’s incredibly proud of her daughter’s achievement, she’s also terrified because she feels like time is going too fast.

“We no longer have students at home. It’s strange. My two children are adults now. My son Bronson graduated from college in December 2021. I find myself looking forward to what’s next for me,” she explained.

“My hope for her future is that she will be treated fairly by whomever she chooses to work for, and that she will earn enough money to enjoy life. I don’t want her to just earn a living. I want her to love living.

Matteini-Gabriel is now looking to the future and looking forward to starting his new chapter.

From September, she will be busy traveling the world, another of her passions.

His message to others who aren’t sure what they want in terms of higher education or a possible career path is simple: “I would say pick something you’re passionate about and stick with it because it really feels good when you’re done.”


About Joey J. Hott

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