Convocation Spotlight: Joelle Majeau
“I am Cree-Métis, and have always really enjoyed learning about Indigenous peoples and histories. I was also aware that it was likely no one in my family, immediate or extended, would be interested in going to school for this and so I thought it to be necessary that at least one of us did.”
Graduating this June, Majeau reflects on her time at Indigenous Studies fondly and holds great gratitude for her teachers.
“I truly believe that this department has some of the greatest instructors out there. The strength and grace needed to discuss the many difficult aspects of Indigenous realities is immeasurable, and so to see each of my instructors do this every class was very inspiring to me- especially considering the fact that many of them have been directly impacted by the realities of the Indigenous experience in Canada.”
One of Majeau’s favourite projects was collecting plants and drying/mounting them for Robert Bandringa's class Ethnobotany of British Columbia First Nations.
"We also had this incredible field trip to Harmony Garden on the Capilano reserve, where we were guided by Cease Wyss in weeding and replanting in the garden. I feel as though we all connected as a class that day, and everyone got something out of the experience."
When asked for advice or words of wisdom to other students, Majeau encourages them to be curious and to keep an open mind.
“I think I would give similar advice to all new university students, which is to be passionate about what you're going into and be willing to work hard. Personally, I did quite poorly in high school and never considered myself an academic person; I was terrified of going to university. However, my passion for what I was studying really carried me through each semester, and my willingness to put in the time and effort allowed me to do well in most classes.”
And in terms of advice for Indigenous students, she advises to seek support from whomever they feel comfortable, whether it be family, friends, a counsellor, or their instructors.
“The information learned in Indigenous studies is not just data, historical dates, or government policies. These are people's lived experiences, and it can be very difficult to learn about collective traumas and injustices- particularly if you have been impacted by it in your own life. So, never be afraid to talk to someone if you are feeling overwhelmed. Don't forget that as an Indigenous university student learning about Indigenous peoples, histories, and legislation, you are doing exactly what the government never wanted you to do and there is power in that.”
After her graduation, Joelle hopes to have a career that would benefit Indigenous peoples in Canada in some way, and to be of service to those in need. She is also looking into pursuing graduate studies in either Criminology or Urban Studies at SFU.