Guided by her past, litspyaapainskiaki (Singing in the Wind), Irene Young Pine (BA/BEd '11, MEd '24) continues her journey towards cultivating the next generation of teachers. Irene pursued a Master of Education with the hopes of helping future generations heal while taking on leadership roles. An exemplary model of resilience and perseverance, Irene has applied this principle both in her own path and her work as an educator. Drawing from her own lived experiences of reconciliation, she now seeks to advance her work as an educator by teaching Indigenous Education at the post-secondary level.

Circumstances in life can change very quickly and you may need to adjust your journey to complete your studies. Change is inevitable. The only constant is to keep moving forward and face your many storms ahead, just as our mighty buffalo did when they faced cold winter storms. Believe in yourself and don't give up! Try hard - Iikaakiimaat. 

Meet Irene: Resilient warrior woman. Kind spirited soul. In love with life.
Hometown: Blood Reserve, Standoff, Alberta
Program: Master of Education | Major: Educational Leadership

Why did you choose to pursue graduate studies at ULethbridge?

I chose to pursue graduate studies at ULethbridge so that I could continue my lifelong learning goals as well as to advance my career in the field of Indigenous Education.

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

My most memorable ULethbridge experience is when I presented my capstone project with my father, Charles Weasel Head, present. It was a very special and memorable experience as my father emphasized obtaining a good education while I was growing up. I am proud of my father's accomplishments as the first Indigenous Chancellor at ULethbridge!

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time as a graduate student at ULethbridge?

I learned to allow myself to feel through grief and loss but also continue the journey of healing because it is my responsibility as a Blackfoot woman. I learned to be resilient by honesty and by reaching out when I knew I needed the help. Many times I wanted to give up but I am thankful for the support I received from my professors and my fellow cohort classmates. Honesty meant opening up myself to others to trust that I will have the guidance and support needed to complete my studies.

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?

There are a few people I would love to mention who have supported and guided me along the way in my graduate studies. These people are: Dr. Carmen Mombourquette, Dr. Pam Adams, Dr. Kevin Wood, Dr. Amy von Heyking and last but not least I would love to also thank my 2019 cohort that I began this journey with. I would like to send a special thank you to Melanie Morrow who helped me through my studies! Thank you all for the support and guidance hand to heart.

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

One day I may pursue a doctorate but I also hope to one day teach Indigenous Education to students here at the University of Lethbridge. I also plan to continue to advocate for better educational outcomes for my community and raise the achievement gap that exists today. I see myself continuing the work of my father, Charles Weasel Head, in building positive relationships with Indigenous and non- Indigenous peoples in Lethbridge and beyond.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I spend most of my free time with my loved ones. I love to create delicious meals for them or go on long walks in nature with my daughters and my granddaughters. I love to sing and I also love to photograph nature. I love to be outdoors and I enjoy exploring our many landmarks that tell the story of my people, the Blackfoot people.

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