Student Profiles

Derek Jagodzinsky

Masters in Industrial Design
Cree from Whitefish Lake First Nations

It hadn’t occurred to me not to declare my status as an Aboriginal student. My culture is such an important part of my identity and my work that it inseparable from who I am. I draw inspiration from my culture for my art and for my life every day.

My goal is to promote modern aboriginal design. I chose this program to help broaden my skills as a fashion designer and further develop my brand, Luxx ready-to-wear.

The U of A has a wealth of knowledge and skill base for me to learn. It has been a great place for me to experiment and grow as I try new things. I’ve essentially always done what ever I wanted and the U of A has been great for providing guidance and support.

ASSC is a welcoming place for everybody, not just aboriginals. It has always been a place that encourages aboriginal identity and inclusiveness.

CharisCharis Auger

Faculty of Native Studies
Bigstone Cree Nation

Tansi! My name is Charis Auger and I am nêhiyaw-iskwêw (Cree Woman) from the Bigstone Cree Nation. I am currently completing my Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies with a certificate in Aboriginal Governance & Partnership

My goals consist of completing my degree in 2017, so that I may honour the teachings that late Marge Friedel gave me. I would also like to continue supporting the Woven Journeys Program at iHuman Youth Society. 

One thing that makes me proud of the U of A is the Transitional Year Program (TYP). This program, along with ASSC, has provided me with a support system that has brought me to where I am today.

I chose to self declare because I am teaching nikosis (my son) Pheonix to be proud of who he is.

In my second year of studies (when my son wasn't with me full time), I felt alone and wanted to quit. Luckily, a friend from class saw that I wasn't my "usual self" and asked if I wanted to go smudge at ASSC. We did and while sitting there, she began to share a story with me and at the end of it she let me know that "friends are the family you choose". With that, I realized that ASSC was and is my family. That is what ASSC means to me, being a good relative. I have come a long way and would like to honour ASSC for being there, every step of the way!

Billy-Ray Belcourt

Faculty of Arts
Driftpile Cree Nation

I am a proud alumnus of the University of Alberta, partly because of the university's investment in making FNMI academic success possible. I self-declared not only because it is important to acknowledge the communities to which I belong, but also because I wanted to be part of a close-knit network of care built by FNMI students, staff, and faculty from across Turtle Island. The Aboriginal Students Services Centre, in particular, provided the resources and companionship that made the transition smoother and my time on campus memorable.

Austin Zacharko

Faculty Of Engineering 

It seemed trivial for me to declare my aboriginal status when applying to the University of Alberta (U of A). My entire life, being Métis has always been a part of who I am, and what I believe in. What I didn’t realize, was that when I did self declare myself as Métis, I would be given an abundant amount of opportunities and resources that would aid in my education to become an Engineer.

The Aboriginal Student Services Center (ASSC) at the U of A has not only given me resources and skills that have helped me succeed academically, such as printing and tutoring, but they have also helped me find and belong to the aboriginal community at the U of A. Living off campus, the ASSC has allowed me to feel close to a family that supports and cares for me even when I am away from home.

Once I have completed my degree in Mechanical Engineering from the U of A I hope to help develop and provide a sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly way to create and use energy. This dream wouldn’t even be possible without such an outstanding institution like the U of A, and the people at the ASSC. For me, the U of A gives my hopes and dreams a reality. I believe that through the use of my knowledge attained from the U of A, and my connection to the environment, I can make a difference that will not only prevent the further destruction of our land, but also allow future generations of aboriginal people to enjoy it as well.