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Indigenous People's Career Stories
I have discovered that learning from others, is the greatest way to avoid making mistakes; and listening to others with the intention to truly understand, is an important way to obtain a deeper education.

I don’t know how many times I have asked myself what I want to be when I grow up. I asked myself when I was five and I am still asking myself that question. To be honest, I still don’t know the answer. As a communications major, I have many options. There are many routes I could choose and I know that very few people ever really end up in careers for which they had originally gone to school. I feel ill prepared for what may come after graduation. I have experienced enough life to know that our plans rarely work out exactly as we had imagined and it is better to be prepared for contingency plans and surprises, hopefully pleasant ones.

I am a woman who identifies as First Nation and it is important to me that part of this identity be included, in some way, in my future career choice. I don’t know if that means my work will include Indigenous communities or simply that my ancestral heritage be honoured and valued as a part of my life experience.

SFU’s Career Services Department has identified the value of Indigenous students, both as individuals and as a resource for employers. Indigenous Peoples Career Stories is an event hosted by Career Services where they bring stories of Indigenous people that have been through the experience of thinking, seeking, learning, failing and succeeding in their search for a satisfying career. Panelists share their stories and offer insights to those of us who will soon begin our own journeys of finding a fulfilling way to use our degrees.

This year our panelists include; Miranda Stirling; a woman who loves her job at New Relationship Trust, where she is currently the Capacity and Events Manager. She takes care of the Governance and Scholarship Grants and organizes the Young Entrepreneurs Symposium as well as other events. Gerald Bent is an alumnus of SFU. He is currently employed with Correctional Services Canada where he works toward Aboriginal offender rehabilitation and treatment.  Peter Eppinga, MD is the CEO and President of Eppinga Family Real Estate Company, that manages and assists low-income families, as well as working on a mobile diabetes clinic as an epidemiologist and configuring health surveys. Crystal Morris is the Aboriginal Education Coordinator for UBC. Her primary role is with the UBC Youth Circle and UBC Learning Circle.

This is just a brief introduction to our panel this year. I am especially looking forward to hearing from such a diverse group of people, whom I am sure have experienced a little of everything between them. It is important to me that many of them have incorporated their Indigenous background into their work life; and that they have felt compelled to share their stories as Indigenous peoples with the hope of helping to guide those of us who will be entering the work force in the future.

This event is an excellent resource and I plan on soaking every little tid-bit of information that is offered to me. Many of the employers that will be attending the event will be present specifically recruiting Indigenous students, as they have recognized that ours is the fastest growing population and as a resource, we are extremely valuable. I will share more about these employers in my next blog.

I have discovered that learning from others, is the greatest way to avoid making mistakes; and listening to others with the intention to truly understand, is an important way to obtain a deeper education. This event will provide information that is invaluable to me and to many others and I do hope you will join us in celebrating Indigenous Peoples Career Stories.

SFU Student
Christina Coolidge is currently attending SFU as a graduate student in the department of Communications. She is the Indigenous Program Researcher with the Career Services department. Christina is a member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation and her matrilineal ancestry includes Metis (Cree and Scottish) from the Red River area. She hopes to help build a bridge between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities in order to better understand one another and to live together in a spirit of unity.
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Feb 4, 2013

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