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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
DR. SHERRI CHISAN
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. Sherri Chisan
Sherri is a nehiyaw iskwew from Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Treaty Six Territory. She enrolled in the Business Enterprises and Self Government Systems of Indian, Inuit and Metis Peoples (BESS) program at the University of Lethbridge and pursued a Bachelor of Management. She was a member of the first BESS Management degree graduating class in 1989 and awarded the Gold Medal for her academic work. Sherri holds a Doctorate degree in iyiniw pimâtisiwin kiskeyihtamowin (Indigenous peoples knowledge) and is Director of Programs for University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills.
Sherri discusses her experience as a management student at the University.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(JO: Jon Oxley, Interviewer)
SO: There were a couple of fellows from the University of Lethbridge that were on a recruitment tour and so I went to a meeting and I liked the sound of what they had to say. They were just ... it was the early years of the BESS Program: Business Enterprises and Self-Governing Systems of Indian and Inuit and Metis People and it took us a whole week just to learn how to say that name. Not really, but it was a cumbersome name. At any rate, I thought that seemed to be a good idea, so there actually was several of us, there was handful, probably about five or six of us from here that went to the U of L.
JO: At the same time?
SC: Yup, all at the same time. And some went into general management and some went into the BESS Certificate. I went into the BESS Degree. There was several different options, but there was a bunch of us that went over there. So, you know, that sort of changed the direction of my life, I suppose. I never did start that small business.
JO: You got waylaid by ideas.
SC: I did, well I began to understand that whatever I had ... might think my purpose is here, it might be different from what Creator has in mind. And so to be ready to 'surf that flex' and be ready to go through the door when it opens ... has been ... and to trust the universe, you know, have been guiding principles of my life. And I remember a moment walking down University Hall, that big, long, cavernous cement and glass hall, right? Where the Book Store was, where the Registrar was and were the line-ups were and all of that. And I was on my way to the Registrar’s office and it was late in my school year and the last school year that I was there and you know people were then stopping me and talking to me about my finishing because I was doing well. And I think I did well because ... it was the moment I realized I had that social message in my mind that we are not good enough. Because I thought, 'Ya – I am graduating! I did well!' And it was that realization that I had worked so hard out of fear of making that message true. That I pushed myself, and because I pushed myself that hard, I did well. And not only perhaps to my surprise but to the surprise of people in the institution, including students.
JO: Did you see your accomplishments there being really representative of your family and everything that ... your elders had also invested in you in terms of philosophy and drive?
SC: Yes, and I saw ...
JO: Drive might be the wrong word ...
SC: Absolutely, it was that sense of responsibility. So for me, I didn’t feel so much like it was an individual achievement. It was definitely about the encouragement and support I got from my family and from my student colleagues and from the Indigenous community and the sense of responsibility that I had. And also to future generations to say, 'See,we can do this.' I was hoping it was opening doors.