SFU First Nations Student Association 2013-2014: A Year in Review

SFU First Nations Student Association 2013-2014: A Year in Review

By: Laura Forsythe
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Who is actually a member of the FNSA?
All self-identified Aboriginal, First Nations, Inuit, Metis, and Status/Non-Status students here at SFU.

Who runs this organization?
The First Nations Student Association is an independent student-run organization and it is not a department of SFU and is not connected to student services at all. We have no employees and all the work we do is done by students for students.

What does the FNSA do for the students here at SFU? And for which students, just First Nations or everybody?
Our mandate is two-fold: to personally, academically, and culturally support self-identified First Nations students (Inuit, Métis, Status and Non-Status) and to educate the campus community on First Nations issues. We are here for all students in one capacity or another. All of our lectures and speaker series are open to the entire student body here at SFU as well as the community at large.
In the past we have also advocated for services and resources for students and the promotion and sponsorship of activities on campus that demonstrate the cultural diversity of First Nations people.Every year we have a feast open to all of SFU to celebrate our culture called the Spring Feast. At this event there are traditional dancers, performers, artisans and craftsmen sharing their culture with the students.

What does the FNSA have to offer First Nations students (Inuit, Métis, Status and Non-Status)?

The FNSA attempts to create a greater sense of community by providing a space Indigenous students are free to be themselves and meet other Indigenous students that may also be far from home. We also hold socials, be it lunches, dinners and get togethers to help bond students. Many skills are needed to be successful, not just academic ones. Many students need to build their resumes and we host training sessions that will benefit them outside of SFU. Last year we ran a FoodSafe, First Aid and Board Training sessions to improve upon their employable skills.

In the last year the FNSA has created an SFU endownment to finanically help support students. This trust will aid 6 students through 2 bursaries, 2 scholarships and 2 engaement awards in the fall every year.

As a way to introduce the Learning commons workshops to the students a special session is held for Indigenous students at the FNSA's expense to help the students learn effective study habits and how to best prepare for exams. Many of the First year members are from smaller colleges and need help adjusting to SFU demanding schedules and work load having other Indigenous students to lean on and gain advice from helps the students survive their first terms. The FNSA also hosts large events around the interests and in the field of study of the students in the FNSA that will help them gain networks outside of SFU.

Over the past year FNSA has hosted numerous drum making and medicine wheel workshops to help the students gain experience in the many cultures of First Nations in this country. We have also provided a home for the Coast Salish singing group to promote the students learn the art of singing while here in Coast Salish territory. All of our events and meetings are catered by an Indigenous Catering company that can provide traditional food for the students.

If you are a self identified First Nations students (Inuit, Métis, Status and Non-Status) attending SFU and want to become a FNSA member please email fnsa-board@sfu.ca

What does the FNSA have to offer a Non-First Nations person here at SFU?
There are many events that happen throughout the year that you are welcome to attend. All marketed events such as our Aboriginal Criminology Series, SFU Indigenous Day, Indigenous orientation events, Indigenous People Career Stories and any FNSA funded events are open for the student body at large. The FNSA partners with both the Women's Centre and SFPRIG to bring attention to issues around advocacy such as the Say no to the Pipeline Rally, all of these partner events such as this are open to the student body. If you are interested in receiving emails to attend the FNSA events please email fnsa-friends-admin@sfu.ca


What are some of the  FNSA hosted and funded events this past year?

FNSA Criminology Series

 Crime Series

Indian Ernie: Perspectives on Policing and Leadership

After 27 years with the Saskatoon Police Service, Sgt. Ernie Louttit retired and published his memoirs. The officer, known on the street as "Indian Ernie," was a key figure in seeing that justice was served in the Neil Stonechild case. In his memoirs he tells stories of his years with the police and the lessons he learned, he came to share this with SFU and the DTES community.

David D. Varis: Vision, Creation and Leadership: A First Nations Perspective.

David D. Varis, Lecturer at the University of Prince Edward Island and Visual Artist and Creator of Apple Feather Studios will speak on Vision, Creation and Leadership: A First Nations Perspective. He shared his work that spans many fields, and talked about the importance of vision, creation and leadership in realizing one’s professional and personal goals.

FNSA Indigenous Feminism Series

Cherry Smiley

Our FNSA Indiegnous Feminism Series began with a group of students feeling that a sessional instructor devalued the empowerment of Aboriginal women causing the group to seek out empowered SFU students to speak to their passions. Our first speaker Cherry Smiley who is an artist, Indigenous feminist activist, and prostitution abolitionist that has just completed her Masters at SFU.

Sarah Hunt

Followed by Dr. Sarah Hunt recent graduate from SFU who is an ally to sex workers seeking to strengthen relationships between Indigenous sex workers and other members of Indigenous communities in order to confront the stigma and criminalization which contributes to increased violence.

This fall a third event will provide a panel women from the Downtown Eastside to speak about their opinions and experiences with Sex work and their opposition to it.

FNSA Empowerment

Jodie Lynn Waddilove

Jodie-lynn Waddilove: Aboriginal Women in Law

Maclean's Magazine named Jodie-Lynn as "One of Canada’s Top 100 Under 30 to watch in the new millennium.” Her career as a lawyer has been nothing but inspirational. Jodie-lynn came to Harbour center to speak to a class regarding the law and Indigenous people.

Calvin Helin

Calvin Helin:Empowerment Mindset Motivating Indigenous Self-Reliance

 member of the Tsimshian Nation, comes from the community of Lax Kw’alaams on the Northwest coast of British Columbia, Canada. The son of a hereditary chief, Helin works as an attorney and entrepreneur. He came to SFU to discuss his third book The Empowerment Mindset follows up on the first two books of the author which provided a high-level survey of problems and barriers people face in often trying circumstances.

Indigenous Career Events Sponsored by the FNSA

Indigenous Peoples Career Stories 2014

Indigenous People's Career Stories

The FNSA was the largest sponsor for the panel which included Indigenous people from various walks of life that introduced themselves and discussed their backgrounds, their education, the obstacles they have overcome, and their career path. These Indigenous representatives are from a variety of organizations, industries and Nations here to tell their stories and answer your questions. This years panel included:

Captian Micheal Harris

Michelle Martinson

Jodie-Lynn Waddilove

Steve Sxwithul’txw

Cease Wyss


Aboriginal Inclusion Network Luncheon

Aboriginal Human Resource Council

The CEO & President of the Aboriginal Human Resource Council, Kelly J Lendsay spoke to Indigenous students about how the Aboriginal Inclusion network can help you find the right job, the right employer and build a career path that feeds your passion and emphasizes your talent.

Aboriginal Youth Internship Program Luncheon

Bradley Dyck from the program came to meet with students to share exciting information regarding the award winning program supporting Aboriginal youth career and leadership development.


Indigenous Student Center events sponsored by the FNSA

SFU Campus

September Welcome BBQ

Every Fall the FNSA teams up with the ISC to provide Indigenous food for the welcoem BBQ which provides an opportunity for students to meet thier support system on campus and meet new friends.

Indigenous Graduate Honor Feast

Each year we host the graduation honor feast for Indiegnous students with the ISC. This year we had the most attendees ever! Here is a story about last years event Honoring Feast SFU


FNSA community events

This past year the FNSA has hosted a weekly luncheon to provide the students the nourishment and sense of community that we hope aids in the completion of their degrees.

Each term we host an evening out which includes dinner and an activity as part of of mandate to strengthen the ties within our community.


SFU community FNSA sponsored events

SFU indigenous day! Cultural Groups Git Hayetsk Dancers, Tzo'kam, Smokey Valley Tiinesha Begaye, Kulu Dancers, and Tsatsu stalqayu  shared thier culture through music, dance and song some of their Indigenous Knowledge.

Artists shared their Indigenous knowledge through an exhibit of their work as well as demonstrations. 

A dream Catcher Workshop was free for those interested in trying something new. And Elders lead talking circles for those interested in learning more about Indigenous culture with question and answer periods.

Indigenous organizations such as the First Nations Cultural council and UNYA, exhibited their resources for both Indigenous and non-indigenous attendees.

Many SFU Indigenous Initatives were also featured sharing with those in attendance such as Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Studies, Indigenous OLC, and the Office for Aboriginal Peoples


The FNSA board 2013-2014

Laura Forsythe

Levi Wilson

Maren Thompson

Mike Vegh

Nina Repchuk

Alexander Hobrough

Morgan Varis


We look forward to sharing our next years contributions to our membership and the community abroad.


If you are a current Inidgenous student at SFU and want to become a member of the FNSA please email fnsa-board@sfu.ca.

Posted on August 27, 2014