2016 ASA Student Interviews

Aboriginal Student Affairs (ASA) is reaching out to recent alumni and current students to provide advice to new and current students at UBC. Check back on this page to learn tips on how to find community on campus, how students overcame challenges during their degree programs, and what kinds of opportunities students should consider taking advantage of while at UBC.

Siera Stonechild is a 2nd year student in the Honours History major in the Bachelor of Arts. She is Plains Cree from Red Deer Alberta, and offers plenty of insight into the transition to, and life of, an Aboriginal student at UBC. Keep reading to learn more about her academics, her transition to the west coast, and for her advice on the best meal to power through stress!

What are you studying at UBC? What drew you to it?

I am majoring in Honours history in the Faculty of Arts. I enjoy this program because, although it is a bit more challenging, the support and sense of community is very important to me. As well, I enjoy the philosophical debates about historiography, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I view the world through choosing this program.

Could you tell me a bit more about your Honors History program?

The Honours History program is small group seminar-style, and is very similar to Master’s courses, so I’ve heard. Historiography is the study of History as a discipline, and, as history is eclectic, we look at many different authors like Ta Nehisi Coates, Foucault, Weber, and Kuhn. I feel like a better educated, better-rounded student and I have a new appreciation for my other courses. With my program, I get a sense of academia beyond the regular undergraduate experience, and I build close ties with my peers and professors. It is very difficult, but the benefits outweigh the extra reading. When I graduate, I will have a second language, and an undergraduate thesis to show for it.

What was it like transitioning to life at UBC as an Aboriginal student?

It was not too difficult for me; however, there were a few differences. I am Plains Cree, so I am not familiar with Indigenous west coast culture. It took a little bit of adjusting to the Longhouse on campus, as the practices and traditions are not the same as in my community back home. However, there is still the community around food, and humour, so I was happy that I came here! I have experienced some cultural insensitivity once in a course, but after speaking with the Aboriginal advisor about the issue it was quickly resolved in a way that gave me closure. All in all, going to university is going to be a transition, no matter your background. I recommend coming to UBC because of the ample support for Indigenous students from First Nations support services, the student body, the faculty, and everyone in between.

You’re from Red Deer, what was the move away from home like?

Coming from Red Deer, which I consider to be a city with a small-town mentality, I was a little nervous to be “just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world”. However, the campus and the surrounding endowment lands are at the edge of Vancouver and there are beaches, grocery stores, and anything else that I might need within walking distance. There is also the luxury of taking a bus for 30 minutes to get to city centre, if I want to do something “city-like”. The hardest thing to reconcile was going from being one of the smartest kids in the room, to average. I learned a lesson in humility, and I am a better student and person for it. I find that support for Indigenous peoples in Vancouver and UBC vastly differs from back home. There is more cultural awareness, less racism, and more structures built into the governance system that actively create better opportunities and understanding between the university and Indigenous students. UBC continues to consciously work towards a better relationship with Indigenous students, and I am more than happy and proud of my choice of post-secondary institution. As well, there is a larger Indigenous student body and community at UBC in comparison to Red Deer. The community is active with cultural events and is incredibly welcoming. I learned how to make mukluks last year, and I am excited to learn more this year!

Do you have any advice for new Aboriginal students at UBC?

I would say that realizing that if something is late, or you don’t do as well as you hoped, it will not be the end of the world. Yes, you may hand in an essay late, or fail a midterm, but there is always someone willing to help. Go to a professors office hours, or if you don’t like authority figures (like me), talk to a TA. TA’s are often more approachable than professors, and will most often mediate and advocate for you. As well, have a coping mechanism that you know works for you. When I am super stressed, have writer’s block, and am at my wits’ end, I order a large pizza. Food fuels my brain, I can have a power nap until it arrives, and pizza never fails to bring optimism with it. Also: Dominoes delivers to campus, and there is a student coupon you can use.

Where on campus is ‘home’ for you?

I literally live on campus, so home for me is the Vancouver campus! However, I like to socialize in Buchanan Tower near the History Lounge, or in the Longhouse on the couch. I prefer the Longhouse for relaxation because it feels more like I can be myself there. Plus, someone will always talk to you and show you where you can find food. For studying, I prefer IKB because I like the atmosphere and general murmur. I am not a big fan of Koerner Library, because the silence makes me worried about how loudly I turn pages. If I really need to crank out an essay, I go to any of the Buchanan buildings and set myself up in an empty classroom.

In the History Honours Program, students make the shift from being consumers of history to becoming producers of historical knowledge. For more information on the History Honours program, visit the program website.


Faith Sparrow-Crawford is a 4th year Musqueam student finishing up her major in FNIS. Faith is familiar with the pressures of school, but is a model example of how to follow your passions during your time at university. Faith is also a talented singer and musician, and ASA would like to wish her all the best in her last few weeks at UBC. Read on to learn more about Faith, her advice and her journey with Indigenous London!

What program/specialization are you studying at UBC and how did you choose it?

I am in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies program! I kind of came into FNIS on a bit of a whim. I spent my first two years taking psychology classes, thinking I would major in it. I realized after a bit of time, though, that I didn’t have much of a passion for it. So I decided to declare my major in FNIS even though I had only taken one class in it. I’ve never looked back!

What would you say your biggest success has been at UBC so far? 

I think my biggest success at UBC has been gaining a deeper understanding of who I am. I am First Nations from Musqueam and learning the theory of First Nations and Indigenous studies has really given me better insight into who I am and where I come from. It has really brought me closer to my own family and community.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced to date and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced at UBC is grappling with the emotional aspects of my studies. Because the issues and topics we study in FNIS have a direct connection to Indigenous people’s history and lives it can be emotional and overwhelming. I’m lucky to have such an amazing group of friends and colleagues in the program that have always been so supportive in these instances. Everyone is aware of the sensitivity that comes with studying these topics and provides comfort and support to one another when it becomes a little too much. We are a strong community.

You were one of the students to participate in Indigenous London, can you elaborate more on that experience? 

I could talk for days about Indigenous London. It was such an enlightening experience for me. As I said before, I am First Nations. But I am also part English! So being in London learning about Indigenous presence in the heart of the British Empire was a reminder of my two histories. The most eye-opening experience for me was at the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University where we were able to come into close proximity with Indigenous belongings held in the Museum for years. Many Coast Salish belongings were held here, and I felt a deep sense of connection to these pieces as they are part of my ancestry. At the same time, I was confronted with another part of my English history. My grandfather attended Oxford as a young man and I felt a new connected to him. I was confronted with two sides of my history in the same space so far from the place I call home, Vancouver. It was an incredible experience for me.

Do you have any advice for new Aboriginal students at UBC?

Take a few FNIS courses!! UBC has some of the greatest scholars in this field. Soak up all the knowledge you can from them. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from all of these brilliant minds and I am sad that my time with them is coming to an end!

What are your plans after graduation? 

Honestly, I’m not sure! I’m taking a year off from studies to work and commit some time to my passion, which is singing and making music. In that year I hope to become a little clearer on what I would like to do in future studies. I have my eye on some Masters programs in New Zealand, but anything could happen! Stay tuned!

For more information about place-based studies like Indigenous London, visit the FNIS website. There are a variety of programs offered, such as semesters at Dechinta and Haida Gwaii!

Danielle Kraichy is a 4th year student at UBC currently pursuing a major specialization in First Nations and Indigenous Studies (FNIS). Danielle is of Métis descent and is the current FNIS assistant, read on to learn more!

Can you tell me about what you’re studying and why you were drawn to it?
I am in my fourth year of my undergraduate degree, majoring in First Nations and Indigenous Studies. When I was thinking about what courses to register in for my first semester of University, my sister encouraged me to take FNSP 100 (now FNIS 100). This course not only helped me with my own understanding of my family and our Métis culture, but also provided new issues and concepts that I was unaware of or unable to articulate. This, along with passionate and caring professors and students, really drew me to First Nations and Indigenous Studies.

You’re the new FNIS assistant with Work/Learn, congrats! Can you elaborate a bit on your position?

Thank you! Well, in my position I help with some administrative work but also edit the Post, the FNIS and ASA biweekly newsletter, and the Raven, FNIS’ annual publication. Since my position is through UBC and my Supervisor is from the same department I Major in (FNIS), I am provided with a lot of support for my studies. Having both my work and my classes in the same area on campus provides me with more time to study and follow through with my other commitments.

What has been your biggest challenge at UBC so far? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge at UBC so far has definitely been balancing my studies with my mental health. It is so easy to get caught up in courses, grades and other academic ventures and then feel guilty if you turn some of these opportunities down. However, learning to say no to some things and just enjoy some time completely away from your studies can do wonders on your attitude – it did for me. For me, being happy and making time where I don’t have to do anything is so important and it makes learning a lot more rewarding.

Can you tell me more about your Métis roots? How do you stay connected to your culture while at UBC?
Sure. I am a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation with lineage to Métis of the Red River Settlement. I didn’t grow up being too immersed in my culture other than within my own family. My university studies really provided me with an opportunity to explore my lineage and make cultural connections between my family, my community and my studies. I stay connected with my culture by attending events and get togethers with other Indigenous folks in Vancouver and by skyping my family back home. I also visit once or twice a year and really try to incorporate my Métis family into my course work when appropriate. My connection to my culture subtly shifts but it is always there.

Where on campus is home for you?
The First Nations Longhouse is definitely my home away from home on campus. I visited the Longhouse for the first time with my mother before my first year of University and after that visit, she felt much better with me staying in Vancouver because of the environment that the Longhouse and its inhabitants create. I also acquired my first Work/Learn position at the Longhouse and was able to get to know a lot of folks because of that position. The weekly lunches, study spaces and lounge spaces are fantastic as well!

Do you have any advice for new/current students at UBC?

Find something you enjoy doing and make it personalised to keep your interest in your studies. This doesn’t just apply to one’s major or degree but also takes into account class size, other program opportunities, and clubs relevant to your program and fellow classmates. Personalise your degree through certain electives, exchange opportunities or connecting your class assignments to your own family. Also, making friends in your classes, especially those who will be or are in your cohort, can really help get you through your studies. If you miss a class or don’t understand something you have someone to help you and vice versa.

The Post is a newsletter curated by First Nations and Indigenous Studies (FNIS) and Aboriginal Student Affairs (ASA) in UBC’s Faculty of Arts. It is sent out bi-weekly and contains lots of important information about events, news, dates & deadlines and job opportunities. To subscribe to The Post, please email fnis.assistant@ubc.ca.

Aboriginal Student Affairs would like to introduce Ryan Crosschild, a student who has recently graduated from the Faculty of Arts at UBC.

What’s your name and where are you from?
Oki niitaniko Sikapiohkiitopi. My English name is Ryan Crosschild, and my Blackfoot name is Sikapiohkiitopi (Grey Horse Rider). I was born and raised in the heart of Blackfoot territory, Kainaiwa (Blood Tribe). My people are the Mamiaoyiiksi (Fish Eaters Clan). I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to study and live on Coast Salish Territories these past four years.

What did you study while at UBC? How did you decide on your undergraduate specialization?
Choosing my specialization was a combination of having excellent professors and hearing the amazing and inspirational stories from my fellow students. I graduated from UBC earning my Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Political Science and minor in First Nations and Indigenous Studies (FNIS). I originally came to UBC to attend the Sauder School of Business. At first, this was an opportunity for me to move away from home and gather new knowledge like my ancestors have done before me. However, my first year was a huge struggle because my heart was not in the course material. My intentions have always stayed constant throughout my education, which was to pursue a post-secondary degree so that I could contribute back to my community.

After taking a couple of courses in FNIS and Political Science it became very clear that I would be more successful in the Faculty of Arts. And I’m glad I made that decision to move. There are those few teachers that have touched our lives so immensely that have inspired us to become more inquisitive to the world around us and to pursue that love of learning and my experiences in both FNIS and Political Science provided me with that.

Throughout the school year, there is an ever-present need to find the perfect balance between academics, family, having a social life, and personal health. Can you speak to some of the challenges you experienced trying to find this balance throughout your undergrad at UBC?

The challenge of creating balance amongst academics, family, social life and personal health is ever present while being a university student. What was especially difficult for me was that I was an Indigenous student from outside my traditional territory. Luckily for me, I was able to find other students that gave me that support.

My weekly phone calls home (sometimes daily) to my family reminded me of the reason I was sacrificing my time away from home…to achieve academic merit. To go away, such as my ancestors did long ago, to experience the hardships away from clan and nation to bring out the best in me. My time away from home allowed me to learn how to balance my life without having anyone policing my time and actions. This was the greatest test but also equipped me with the greatest gift of self-discipline, perseverance and the ability to push my limits, at the same time, becoming more grounded by the people that helped me on my journey.

How did you cope with the mid-term and final stress? Any tips for new students at UBC?
Navigating through exams can be stressful and overwhelming most of the time, especially if you’re having to deal with other life obligations simultaneously like I had to. The best advice I could give would be to make a connection to a place on campus. The Longhouse was my go to place. It was really the perfect place to be during exams. The smell of cedar helped me relax, the staff and students were great supports, and when I needed a break the Nitobe Japanese gardens were just across the street.

Trying to sprint your way through university will overwhelm you, so I tried to avoid cramming sessions as much as possible. I found that if I treated studying like a job it wasn’t as overwhelming. I would study during the day and in the evenings, give myself the time to exercise and relax. I could retain more information when I took care of myself. That’s why self-care and sticking to a routine can make a huge difference in stress levels and academic performance.

A lot of students are far from home, do you have any advice for them?
It’s a very difficult transition at first, especially if you’re a great distance away from home like I was. The best advice I could give to new students would be to go visit the Longhouse. I keep referring to it because it’s helped me out in so many ways. The Longhouse became my anchor for a lot of things. That’s where I studied, smudged, and where I got my first job on campus. It was also where I made a lot of my close friends. It can easily become your home away from home.

What was the most challenging experience you had at UBC and how did you overcome it?
It was very intimidating at first coming from a small community. I came from a family that was very involved in ceremony, community events, and volunteering, so moving away really disoriented me. Being absent from my relations back home was a very hard adjustment, but what made it extremely difficult at times was trying to continue with my studies whilst dealing with community deaths. There were many times when I felt that I might quit at any moment. Having to juggle assignment deadlines and exams during a time of bereavement was suffocating. What gave me strength was ceremony. When events like this happen, we don’t have control over what happened but we maintain our control over how we decide to react. For me, I would light my smudge and then make an appointment to see a counsellor on campus. It helped in the interim, at least until I had an opportunity to go home and be with my family. Everything always worked out in the end despite how impossible it might’ve seemed at the time.

Whenever you feel like you’re faced with an impossible challenge remind yourself of where you come from. For a lot of Indigenous students, we are the result of our ancestors’ resolve to continue moving forward despite the odds against us.

Where are you currently working? Do you enjoy it?
Currently, I have two jobs. My primary job is working as the FNMI Program Specialist at the University of Lethbridge. Throughout my time here I have worked on building the cultural profile on campus through planning and organizing FNMI events, cultural acumen training, and working to support FNMI students by providing referrals to other support services. My secondary job is working with Kainaiwa Children’s Services Corporation as the policy development researcher. I assist the organization with ensuring best practice matches provincial standards, as well as providing research on ways to decolonize the operations of the organization. I’ve really enjoyed my time in both positions. It’s great to be back in my home territory working to implement the knowledge I acquired in FNIS and Political Science.

Do you have plans for graduate school?
Yes. I would like to pursue a Master’s degree, and eventually my PhD, looking at the intersections of Indigenous Masculinities, particularly Two-Spirit individuals, and the role that plays in governance and cultural revitalization for the Blackfoot peoples.

ASA Tip: If you feel like you could use some professional support to help you with stress occurring with your academics or your personal well-being, then you may wish to speak with a counsellor. Aboriginal students can request to meet with a counsellor that operates out of the Longhouse, you can mention this when you book an appointment. Learn more about Mental Wellness Support provided at UBC through Counselling Services here.

Jared Knott is a third-year student at UBC  pursuing a major speciajared-newlization in Anthropology. This past year, Jared let ASA know that he was selected as a new goalie for the UBC Thunderbirds Varsity Hockey Team. Read on to learn more about Jared and how he manages to pursue athletics while maintaining focus on his degree program.

What program/specialization are you studying at UBC and how did you come to choose it?

I am currently an Anthropology major, with future aspirations to attend law school. I chose Anthropology because I am fascinated by the subject and it often intersects with First Nations studies, something that I am very passionate about.

What was it like transitioning to life at UBC as an Aboriginal student?

My transition to UBC was extremely smooth. After 2 years at Douglas College, the Aboriginal Academic Advising made it easy for me to get accustomed to UBC. While making the move from a college to a large university like UBC may seem daunting, taking advantage of the resources the ASA has to offer will make the transition much easier for new students.

How are you finding balancing school and athletics?

As a first year athlete at UBC it was a major transition for me after previous years of studies without athletics. After walking on to the varsity hockey team nearly 3 years since last playing competitive hockey, I was overwhelmed with excitement to officially become a Thunderbird! Initially, I found balancing athletics and academics to be daunting, however as is life for any student, time management allowed me to make a successful transition. Once I organized a schedule and spoke with our fantastic academic advisors I was able to make a schedule that worked both with my academic and educational goals and have not seen any decline in my academics since becoming a varsity hockey player. UBC athletics is an amazing experience for any individual who has the opportunity and can entirely enhance your university experience!

Do you have any advice for Aboriginal Students at UBC?

My advice for Aboriginal students, and all students in general, is to immerse yourself in everything the University has to offer. Utilize resources, participate in events on campus and enjoy everything we are fortunate enough to experience at our beautiful school.

Where on campus is ‘home’ for you?

While I spend a majority of my time on campus in the Student Lounge at the First Nation Longhouse or the Rose Garden when the weather cooperates, I feel at home everywhere on campus. Everyone is friendly and welcoming throughout UBC and I never feel out of place when at school. For me, I always feel a strong sense of unity and companionship on campus and strongly feel that the University of British Columbia is a second home for me.

ASA Tip: Cheer on the Thunderbirds at their next game. Check out the schedule here.

maize-longboat-photoMaize Longboat is a 2016 graduate from the Faculty of Arts at UBC with a double major specialization in First Nations and Indigenous Studies, and History.  During his studies at UBC, Maize also worked as the FNIS Student Assistant for several years – some of his projects included coordinating the Raven and the Post. We asked Maize to share some advice on how students can prepare for finals and how to find balance during a stressful part of the academic term. Keep reading to learn more about Maize!

Tell us a bit about yourself, what you decided to take at UBC, how you got here, etc.

My name is Maize Longboat and I graduated from UBC with a double major in First Nations and Indigenous Studies and History. My Mohawk ancestry originates from southwestern Ontario, but I grew up in Squamish territory on the Sunshine Coast. Moving to Vancouver to attend UBC made sense to me because it was so close to where I was raised, but prior visits to the campus and talking to Indigenous faculty and students prior to moving to campus solidified my decision to pursue my post-secondary education that much more.

What was the hardest part of this time of year for you during your studies?

University is not easy. Apart from juggling their course load, assignments, and readings all at once, students are encouraged, and rightfully so, to find a part time work, socialize with friends, maintain a healthy eating habit and sleeping schedule, exercise, and make time for self-care. These responsibilities become compounded more so during exam time and there may be nothing more stressful than having to prepare for your finals and assignments all at once. Having to complete my finals while juggling my other commitments and responsibilities was always the most difficult time of year.

How did you cope with the stress?

The stresses induced by finals can be suffocating, but it’s important to remember that your peers are all in a similar situation as you. Finding ways to support both yourself and your classmates is particularly important, whether it’s through organizing a productive group study-session or editing drafts for your term papers. Taking breaks from all-day study sessions for social activities and self-care is also vital to student success, so be sure to get some fresh air and reset every once in a while.

Do you have any tips for students for the upcoming finals?

Finals are temporary. University students are expected to get though many of them during their time at school, so continuing to develop personal strategies that help you succeed will only make things easier as you get closer to graduation. There are many exam periods and a lot of time to keep growing. Do what you need to do to learn while keeping yourself happy and healthy!

A lot of students are far from home, do you have any advice for them?

Just two weeks after I moved to UBC my mother landed work in Alberta and moved from the Lower Mainland to Edmonton. It was tough being a whole province away from my family, but having support from my new friends that I had made in residence, as well as frequent phone calls home, made the transition to university easier. If you’re having trouble with homesickness reach out to your family and your friends. I’m sure that they will understand and want to support you.

What does life after graduating look like for you now? Any plans?

Currently, I’m working as the Indigenous Programming Intern at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in downtown Vancouver. I will be helping the Gallery to create and deliver original programs that will engage the public. This position is limited, so I also plan on continuing my studies in graduate school next year. I have always loved school and I don’t think I could stay away for much longer!

ASA Tip: Need extra help with your final papers and exams? Visit the Learning Commons website to find out how you can receive tutoring support or read over the many resources available on their site!


Lucy Haché is Kwakwaka’wakw, Métis and European and a member of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations, from Northern Vancouver Island. She is the current President of the First Nations & Indigenous Studies Student Association (FNISSA) and the Aboriginal Students Commissioner of the AMS. Keep reading to find out more about Lucy!

What program/specialization are you studying at UBC and how did you come to choose it?

I’m in my third year of the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program. Before coming to UBC I created a Food Security & Nutrition Program on my reserve. I’m passionate about traditional food and medicine revitalization and healing through reconnection to the land. I originally came to UBC with the intent of working towards my Dietetics degree. However, I took a couple FNIS courses and realized that the course content aligned with my passions. I feel like the course content, professors, and fellow students in the program really contribute to preparing us for the important work we are doing to heal and rebuild our Indigenous communities.

What was it like transitioning to life at UBC as an Aboriginal student?

I’m from a really small community on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. When I’m home I spend most of my time out in the wilderness or with my family and community. I’m also really driven to implement positive changes in my community.  So moving to Vancouver and coming to UBC was really hard for me because I was separated from my community, family, and nature. The hectic lifestyle of the city was also a shock to me. I was really unhappy for a while. But I coped by connecting with the Aboriginal communities on campus, and finding ways to implement positive changes on campus through working with the First Nations & Indigenous Studies Student Association (Last April I was elected the president) and as the Aboriginal Students Commissioner to the AMS. Now I’m thriving, and I’ve made so many wonderful connections with like-minded people. I connect with the natural world to ground myself by spending time at UBC Farm, or in the forest and on the beaches surrounding campus.

What was the most challenging experience that you had while attending UBC and how did you overcome it?

My community, family and home are an 8 hour car and ferry ride away from Vancouver. So being separated for extended periods of time is pretty tough. But in my first two years at UBC I lost many loved ones.

In my first year my cousin passed away in a tragic boat accident and in my second year all three of my Grandparents passed within 7 months. Being separated from my family while we were all grieving was extremely difficult and focusing on my studies was nearly impossible.

A number of factors helped me through this time. First, I talked to all my professors to let them know what was happening and they were all very understanding. Second, I met with my Peer Advisor to let her know what was going on with me and in order to get letters for my absence. Third, I met with an Aboriginal Counsellor on a regular basis to work through my grief. I also had a really good support system of classmates and friends who diligently took notes and sent them to me while I was away so that I was able to keep up with most of the course work.

When I returned back to UBC, I set up a daily practice of nurturing myself through yoga, dance and spending time in the forest and on the sea.

Do you have any advice for Aboriginal Students at UBC?

Stay connected to what’s going on among the Aboriginal communities on campus. Join the Talking Stick newsletter, attend the lunches and events at the First Nations House of Learning. This is how you’ll meet some really wonderful people. Also, seek out programs and projects that align with your interests and join them. In my first year I took part in a study that looked at the way traditional Indigenous methods of healing affect Indigenous students. This study was life-changing for me. I’d also recommend that new students check out and join student clubs, such as the First Nations & Indigenous Studies Student Association and the Aboriginal Students Association (Editor’s note: it’s now called the Indigenous Student Association).  Finally, it’s important to look after your well being. If it ever gets too overwhelming or you need someone to talk to, Counselling services on campus is a wonderful resource.

What are your plans after you complete your undergraduate studies?

I would like to return to my home community, the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations on North Vancouver Island.

Some of the work that I will do is to facilitate decolonization through resurgence of our traditional ways of life. This would include revitalization of traditional food and medicine practices, revitalization of our language and connecting to our land and waterways.

However, an important aspect of that work is actually practicing it, so I will spend a lot of time being on the land and sea actually living that resurgence.

I’m also a writer, so it will be very important for me to be able to continue to share my stories. I think the work I will be doing and my lifestyle will tie into that really well.

Where on campus is ‘home’ for you?

I probably spend most of my time at the First Nations House of Learning. I definitely feel at home there. I always run into friends there, and the smell of cedar is comforting me because it reminds me of being in a ceremonial bighouse. Also, there’s a wonderful study space, computer lab, and place to prepare and eat meals there. I also love spending time at UBC Farm, and am looking forward to finding more ways to volunteer there and spend more time on the land.

University is definitely a lot of work, but if you take the time to look after your own well being and interests it can be so incredibly enriching and healing.

ASA Tip: For more information on the Aboriginal-specific clubs and ways to get involved that Lucy mentioned, like First Nations & Indigenous Studies Student Association (FNISSA), check out the FNIS website here

Chelsea Gladstone is a 2nd year student in the Arts from Haida Gwaii. Chelsea attended Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island before coming to study at UBC Vancouver. Keep reading to learn more about her!

What program/specialization are you studying at UBC and how did you come to choose it? chelsea-photo

I am currently undertaking a double major in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice (GRSJ), as well as First Nations Indigenous Studies (FNIS). I chose these two subjects because as I mature as a student I am realizing my strong desire to advocate for not only my Indigenous community but also other communities around the world. My goal is bring inter-generational social issues to light in hopes of healing all Indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

What was it like transitioning to life at UBC as an aboriginal student?

Transitioning to the lifestyle and community at UBC was easy! I found that the students, faculty members and support workers were all extremely welcoming. I believe that UBC as a university has put in a lot of effort to educate their students and staff about Canada’s history and this is so important as it eliminates the stereotyped images many Canadians and international people have when they think of aboriginal people. UBC has allowed me to express myself and culture without feeling shame, and this environment has truly made me feel like I can 100% be myself.

Do you have any advice for Aboriginal Students at UBC?

I would encourage any current and future Aboriginal students to take advantage of our First Nations Endangered Languages (FNEL) and FNIS classes. I found these classes in my first year of university helped me understand myself and where I come from a lot more. Furthermore, understanding the teachings in these classrooms also gave me insight and allowed my vision to grow on how I can return to my community with resolutions.

I would also recommend that all Aboriginal students should take advantage of the opportunities the First Nations House of Learning offers. I found that through these events I was able to make connections with other First Nations faculty and students. The First Nations House of Learning offers many resources such as a clean environment to study, being surrounded by supportive peers and staff, and I believe these two things are essential for our success as Aboriginal students attending UBC. Furthermore, being able to share our cultures with one another in this setting is uplifting and keeps us intact with our roots.

Where on campus is ‘home’ for you?

UBC is a huge campus and there many places I love to spend time. I think Wreck Beach and the First Nations of Learning are home for me. Wreck beach reminds me of my home on Haida Gwaii and this setting allows me to relax and take a breather from school and other worries. The First Nations House of Learning is home for me because I am surrounded by people who love seeing me grow as a person just like my family on Haida Gwaii does.


ASA Tip: For more information on the Aboriginal-specific programs that Chelsea mentioned, like First Nations Indigenous Studies (FNIS) and First Nations Endangered Languages (FNEL), check out the Aboriginal Portal here!

Adesireeboriginal Student Affairs is fortunate to see so many talented, driven students graduate. This September, we reached out to some recent graduates to offer new and returning students some advice and ideas on how to find an academic path through your degree program.

Desiree Roy is an exceptional student who found her ‘home away from home’ on campus within the BFA program and various clubs at UBC. She graduated in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in the Visual Arts Program, commencing her degree with her latest painting series at the annual graduation exhibition at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.

Do you have any tips for getting involved in your first year?

Getting involved with a student club was by far one of the best actions I took in my first year at UBC.  At first I looked into out a few clubs that interested me, and soon after checking them out I had a good sense of what club(s) I wanted to be a part of in a more active way.  I chose to focus my time on one club, the Indigenous Students Association (InSA), and throughout my four years at UBC I held many different positions within the club.  This was by far one of the most rewarding and connective experiences I had at university.  And, if there isn’t already a club doing what you’re interested in then why not be the one to start it, right?

How did you get to know other students? 

I totally recommend going to the Longhouse Tuesday lunches.  It was a great way to meet new people and enjoy some yummy food!

University can be stressful and taxing on you. Any advice for students on how to manage this?

Allow yourself some “me time”.  For myself this was often enjoying socializing with friends.  Making friends and connecting with people in your program/club is such a great way to decompress.  I found getting together with friends and talking about classes, or letting out thoughts and even frustrations was so helpful for me in managing stress.  Oh, and be sure to spend time laughing!  Whether that is just hanging out and chatting or going out to a funny movie, just find a way to smile and feel good with others.  I made some of my very best friends in the years I had at UBC, and couldn’t have gone through those years without that mutual support.

How did you manage your heavy workload? 

One thing I found really helpful was having a “study spot”, or a couple of them!  These were places I would go when I really needed to hunker-down and get some work done.  I liked to find spots which were close to coffee and food, and that had access to free wifi.  I had study spots both on and off campus, it just depended on my mood as to where I would go.  Basically, just find a place you enjoy going, where you know you’ll be able to get into the zone to work.  In my last year I often went to the Blenz cafe on West Broadway, just east of the 99 stop at Arbutus, and I loved to bring slippers to wear, get cozy, sip on a coffee and dive into the work!

ASA Tip: For more information about finding your community at UBC, check out this page.