Skip to main content
OLC Logo

OLC Admin

SFU Staff
N/A
Co-operative Education
Simon Fraser University

empty
Four board members
A Co-op education term split between the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), and Aboriginal Health Program at the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) “opened my eyes to public and population health
Spotlight on the First Nations Student Association

The First Nations Student Association represents all self-identifying Aboriginal, First Nations, Inuit, Métis and status/non-status students at the Burnaby campus.

The association’s goal is to educate the general student body about Indigenous students and their issues.

With 150 active members, the FNSA holds four major community-engagement events each term—including potlatches, film screenings and lectures.

Last fall the association was deeply involved in sponsoring Residential School week, and also organized a lecture series featuring colonization, Indigenous empowerment, and female survivors of domestic violence.

Below are profiles of a few of the FNSA board members.

Laura Forsythe, Métis, Red River Settlement, Manitoba
Laura

Laura Forsythe, 34, entered SFU as a mature student after the birth of her daughter two years ago convinced her to give up the 70-hour-a-week corporate life.

She is now majoring in First Nations Studies, but also spends a great deal of time volunteering at SFU.

In addition to serving as the FNSA’s treasurer, she is a peer cousin for the Indigenous Students’ Centre, and an Indigenous-program researcher for SFU Career Services, where she created an online learning community and website for Indigenous students. She is also a research assistant in the Faculty of Education, where she is working on a project to document Aboriginal students’ success stories.

“I hope to use it as an honours project,”

 - Forsythe

She was recently invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society, whose members’ grades represent the top 15 per cent of their class.

Forsythe intends to become a professor of education.

“I want to spend my time ensuring that Aboriginal students complete their education.”

- Forsythe

Tysun Tallman, Blackfoot Nation, Southern Alberta
Tysun

Tysun Tallman was working part-time as an auto service technician in Kamloops, B.C. when a chance encounter with a dean from Thompson Rivers University (TRU) led his life in a new direction.

The dean suggested Tallman apply to TRU as a mature student, and Tallman took his advice. He upgraded his academic qualifications and then enrolled in science and kinesiology courses before transferring two years later to SFU.

Today, Tallman is in his third year of health sciences and planning a career in which he can improve Aboriginal health disparities.

"A Co-op education term split between the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), and Aboriginal Health Program at the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) “opened my eyes to public and population health,”

- Tallman

The first SFU student to be hired by the FNHA, he was charged with improving its engagement with the Aboriginal community. He coordinated 20 wellness day events across the province, and was hired after completing his Co-op term to support the development of an online youth wellness project for the PHSA Aboriginal Health program.

He also works part-time for SFU Career Services as an Indigenous program researcher and career advisor.

Levi Wilson, Gitga’at Nation
Levi

Levi Wilson enrolled in university after high school but dropped out after his first year.

“I wanted to be a teacher, but I wasn’t ready for university,”

- Wilson

He took a job in construction on Galiano Island, where he grew up, but by age 28, he realized he was working in an industry that takes a long-term toll on workers’ health.

Wilson returned to university and aims to become a secondary school teacher.

He also works as a community liaison for the FNSA, charged with increasing SFU students’ overall Aboriginal awareness. As part of that mission, he is planning eco-cultural trips to Galiano Island with SFU’s outdoors and environment clubs. He also volunteers as a peer cousin with the Indigenous Student Centre.

Nina Repchuk, Cree Métis
Nina

FNSA board rep Nina Repchuk completed an associate degree in science at Douglas College before transferring to SFU in 2005, but then dropped out after just one semester.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life,” she says. “And in 2005, there was no support for Aboriginal students like there is now. I just felt really alone.”

She returned to SFU in 2011 and says that has all changed since she was introduced to the FNSA.

“From there I felt as if I were actually part of an engaged community that cared about me and how I did academically,” she says.

Now an active FNSA member, she is organizing a tutoring program to help FNSA members’ children with their schoolwork. She is also helping the Department of Athletics and Recreation to organize SFU’s new summer camp for Aboriginal youth. ­­

Repchuck expects to convocate this June with a Bachelor of Science. She plans to become a teacher, although she says,

“I can’t decide between teaching or working with Aboriginal communities to create programs or new initiatives.”

Author

OLC Logo

OLC Admin

SFU Staff
N/A
Co-operative Education
Simon Fraser University
Jien Hilario photo
What’s in a Name? Coming to Terms With Labelling Myself as a Person With a Disability

If you were to see Jien on campus, you wouldn’t know that she had a disability. She does not use a wheelchair nor does she have a seeing eye dog. She has an invisible disability. In this article, Jien shares her journey on how she came to terms with labeling herself as a person with a disability. 

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere
Why Doesn’t Canada Have a Disabilities Act?

It is 2018 and Canada has not yet implemented adequate protection and legislation for people with disabilities. When it comes to equality for all, Canada is falling far behind. In this article, Jien discusses the research and reality of why Canada needs a Disabilities Act.

We Can Do It!
How to Satisfy Your Inner Activist

When people think about social justice, they think of things like protests or hunger strikes, but the options don’t end there. These volunteer organizations can help you satisfy your inner activist.

You Might Like These... Indigenous SFU Community Stories, Professional Development, Life Experience, Personal Development, Career Exploration

Mike, author
Indigenous Stories: Mike, SFU Alumni

"I have no solid plans for the future and I love it...I know that every experience that I have had, every failed plan, was really an excellent mistake that gave me the skills I need to handle any situation that gets thrown my way in the future."  Read Mike's story of career exploration, and how to handle constant change.

william lindsay smiling
William Lindsay on Persistance

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence”. Through my life’s experience I can certainly attest to the truthfulness of these words.I hope lessons for others can be found in them. Hence, “Press On” friends and make your own dreams a reality! Read more about William Lindsay's journey and how they overcame life challenges. 

rudy smiling
Rudy Riemer/Yumk | SFU Department of First Nations Studies and Archaeology

"I grew up in Squamish BC, learning from elders and knowledgeable community members about Squamish Nation culture.  Many of my fondest memories are walking to downtown with my grandpa, sitting at my grand uncles kitchen table and going up the river to fish. During these formative years I was always careful to listen to what they had to say." 

You Might Like These... Indigenous SFU Community Stories

Snapshot of the workshop
SFU Reaching Out to Aboriginal Youth

SFU instructors and students are engaged in a variety of community activities that are making a difference to Aboriginal children and youth.

FNSA logo
Student Association 2012-2013: A Year in Review

Have you ever asked yourself "Who are the FNSA and what exactly do they do here on campus?" Here is a year in review to enable you to gain a better understanding of this student run organization and what they do here at SFU.

Deboarah smiling
Deborah Jeffery

“I always return to the words of Indigenous scholar, Eber Hampton, that we need to design an education system ‘worthy of our ancestors and our children,’” Read Deboarah's story of continuing education, determination and a drive to give back to the community.