Those who came before Niihtaapookaa, Tatiana Weasel Moccasin (pictured right) inspired her to attend the University of Lethbridge. She has seen so many of her relatives and peers graduate from this institution — including her grandparents, who are both residential school survivors. Their story, in particular, moves Tatiana to continue intergenerational healing while learning about Indigenous culture and traditions to become a Blackfoot/English teacher when she graduates.
There are so many powerful Nitsitapi women and men who have graduated from this University, making me feel proud to be a Nitsitapi woman.
Did you know what you wanted to study before you came to ULethbridge?
My academic journey has been complicated, and it took me a few years to figure out what I was passionate about academically. I have always been passionate about learning about my culture and enjoyed teaching orally, and I think those experiences helped me figure out what I wanted to study.
Tell us about your experiential or work-integrated learning at ULethbridge.
This past summer, I worked as a research assistant for Michelle Hogue (pictured left) and Ira Provost. I got this job after completing the Indigenous Student Success Cohort (ISSC), a fantastic opportunity that I hold close to my heart. My three biggest takeaways from participating in this program would have to be re-connection, including Blackfoot land, culture, and traditions. This process involved learning about various plants, sacred areas, animals, rocks, and ceremonies that pertain to the Blackfoot lifestyle in the Castle Park Area. After learning about these different things, our goal was to determine how to protect those elements from various things like coal mining, pollution, construction, etc. I loved how that experience made me feel more proud to be Nitsitapi, and it also made me feel brave to continue my studies.
Can you describe your experience in the summer cultural exchange in Quintana Roo, Mexico as part of the Bridging Indigenous Cultures course?
It was amazing to connect with the Indigenous people and really learn about their culture and immerse ourselves in it. It was great to connect with another group of people that really resemble our own and a good way to bridge cultures so it doesn’t seem like we’re so far apart anymore.
What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?
Don't procrastinate because time management is definitely a must in university. The Student Success Centre is a great place that can help you with that. Create healthy habits and surround yourself with people who are healthy for you and your mental health. It’s OK to mess up because that’s all just part of your journey as a student. I pride myself on being independent, but you also need to know it’s OK to ask for help and utilize all the resources that are around you.