Jules graduates with 2 awards

Sep 18, 2003, vol. 28, no. 2
By Carol Thorbes



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Nancy Jules is one of 16 students graduating at the Secwepemc education institute's 15th annual convocation ceremony at the Kamloops Indian band assembly room in Chief Louis centre.



Many people take it for granted, but Nancy Jules considers learning her mother tongue one of her most prized accomplishments.

Jules is one of 16 students graduating at the Secwepemc education institute's 15th annual convocation ceremony on Sept. 19, at 2 p.m., at the Kamloops Indian band assembly room in Chief Louis centre.

Simon Fraser University and the Secwepemc cultural education society (SCES), a First Nations group, cooperatively run the program. It focuses on making university education accessible to aboriginal students.

Its diplomas, certificates, degrees and professional programs, also open to non-aboriginals, emphasize First Nations studies and research.

A member of the Shuswap First Nation's Simpcw band, Jules will not only graduate with impressive credentials, but be honoured with two awards recognizing her accomplishments in learning Secwepemctsin.

The language is her band's mother tongue and the western dialect of the Shuswap Nation.

“To really know who you are and understand where you fit in, I believe you need to know your own language,” notes Jules.

She is graduating with a BA joint major in anthropology and linguistics, minor in First Nations studies, and a certificate in First Nations language proficiency. Like many First Nations people whose lands have been colonized, Jules has felt estranged from her heritage.

The mother of two children came to SFU to access the only university program in B.C. offering regional native language training.

Like others in her family, Jules is committed to learning and revitalizing Secwepemctsin in her community. “Understanding and speaking your own language helps identify you as belonging to a distinct society. I now feel proud of who I am,” says Jules, who was mentored by elders in her community who speak the language fluently.

Jules can also be proud of winning the SCES/SFU linguistics achievement award for the proficiency she has attained in her mother tongue.

She is also sharing this year's Aimee August award with Diane Jules, an award winning SFU grad now receiving a post-baccalaureate arts diploma in First Nations language and culture.

The Aimee August award, worth $1860, is given annually to SCES/SFU students of native ancestry who best demonstrate exceptional scholarship, and an appreciation of native language and culture.

Jules is also her class valedictorian with a cumulative grade point average of 3.19. She plans to begin her master's work in linguistics at Burnaby campus in fall 2004.

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