Finally Being Heard – Meet Ashley Copage

As a Mi’Kmaw woman from Sipekne’katik, Ashely Copage says academia hasn’t always provided the best experiences for her. That all changed when she decided to become part of the CBU family. Currently living in Rines Creek with her partner and their two children, Ashley is working toward the completion of her thesis, the final step in finishing her Master of Education. This will be Ashley’s second graduation from CBU, having completed her Graduate Diploma in Education back in 2021. 

Before beginning her journey with CBU, Ashley completed her Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition in 2018 at Mount Saint Vincent University. She says this program gave her the tools for her role in the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaw (CMM) in the Mi’kmawey Green Communities Program, where Ashley was working when she enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Education program at CBU. After enjoying the program so much while on maternity leave with her first son, she decided to return and pursue her current degree, which she started in 2021. 

Upon completing all of her coursework for her Master of Education, Ashley accepted a position with the Mi’kmaw Services Branch of the NS Department of Education and Early Childhood Education as the Netukulimk Project Lead Consultant. Here, she led the development of a new science course called Netukulimk 12. “This course, which is currently being piloted, was designed to bring Mi’kmaw and western knowledge together to explore environmental science topics,” says Ashley. “My work focused on curriculum and resource development as well as professional development for teachers and department staff.”

Ashley says what she has enjoyed most about her time at CBU has been her ability to work full-time while completing both programs, which allowed her to apply what she was learning in class to her work in real-time. What really impacted Ashley, though, was that for the first time in her academic journey, she truly felt heard. “The courses were designed in a way that even though I was an online student, I felt connected to my professors and fellow students,” says Ashley. “At CBU, I have always felt that my voice and perspective were welcome and heard, which has not always been my experience as an Indigenous woman in academia.”

In addition to her strides in the classroom, Ashley says the connections she has formed at CBU will stick with her for years to come. “The connections I have made with other students and my professors have been my favorite part of both programs,” says Ashley. “I know that after I graduate, these connections will continue to be part of my life.”

Though Ashley is currently enjoying her maternity leave with her second child, her aspirations for the future only continue to grow bigger. “In the coming years, I would love to find more opportunities to work collaboratively with other educators,” says Ashley. “My goal is to bring land-based, environmental education to as many students as possible.”