Born and raised in Paq’tnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, Nadine Prosper always had hopes of pursuing a degree not just for herself, but to inspire other Indigenous people and youth to follow in her footsteps. She enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts program at Cape Breton University while raising a young son, and had her second during the first semester of her third year.
“Raising a young boy and a newborn was not easy,” says Nadine. “There were times I needed to bring my youngest to class with me, and I had many long nights of studying and caring for him. But I was determined.” Nadine says if she can do it, others can too, and serves as a wonderful example of what perseverance can accomplish.
Within her program, Nadine decided to major in Mi’kmaq studies with a minor in Sociology, which offered her a unique perspective and holistic education. Nadine says she rarely experienced her own culture throughout her childhood education, so becoming involved with her community and studying at CBU allowed her to learn more about her Mi’kmaq identity. “During my degree I began to reconnect with my Mi’kmaq culture, beliefs and spirituality,” she explains. “In my favourite class, Indigenous Perspective: Health and Healing, De-Ann Sheppard incorporated diverse teaching methods such as talking circles, presentations by our knowledge keepers, smudging and other interactive learning experiences.”
In addition to her classes, Nadine was a research assistant on a project called Songs, Stories and Sacred Fire with the Centre for Sound Communities where she spoke to elders and created relationships with the community of Membertou. “This experience had a huge impact on finding my true Mi’kmaq identity,” Nadine adds.
Throughout her educational journey, Nadine realized she wanted to help others through teaching. This Saturday, Nadine will graduate from her Bachelor of Arts and is already enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program at CBU. “I want to be part of Indigenizing the education system so it can better support the understanding of Indigenous cultures, ways of life and spirituality,” says Nadine. “It is important for me to play an active role in the decolonization process for our future generations.”
Nadine says her own experience in the education system has allowed her to gain an understanding of the obstacles and barriers Indigenous students face, which is what motivated her to want to help other Indigenous students succeed. As a mother and a member of the Indigenous community, Nadine says it is extremely important that she plays an active role in breaking down these barriers.
As she prepares to begin her Education program, Nadine says she is thankful that CBU has allowed her to see a holistic view and approach against colonialism. “As a future educator, it is important for me to incorporate this holistic approach in my own teaching methods,” she says. “As educators and settlers, it is our responsibility to fight against colonialism so all of us can build stronger relationships for a healthy future. CBU has prepared me to do just that.”