Never Too Late To Study: John K MacEwan

It is often said that life gives second chances, and CBU student John K MacEwan is grateful that it did for him. After many years in recovery through the 12-Step program, John K decided he wanted to pursue a university degree. After overcoming struggles with mental health and addiction and enrolling at CBU, John K is about to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Community Studies.

Born and raised in Membertou First Nation, John K completed a Social Services diploma at Nova Scotia Community College, Marconi Campus before transferring to CBU to boost his career skills. “I chose CBU because I wanted to be close to my community and my family,” says John K. “I knew I could get a quality education while also continuing to be a strong role model within my own community.” 

John K feels the most rewarding part about being an Indigenous student at CBU is the network and friendships he has made. He has been able to gain new understanding of his own culture and traditions, while being able to share it with students from different backgrounds and countries. 

John K is also involved with Sons of Membertou, who were CBU’s 2022 Artists in Residence, and says having the opportunity to illustrate Mi’kmaq culture through song and storytelling during his time at CBU was incredibly rewarding. “I have been involved with the drum group since I was a child,” he shares. “Through the years, I started a journey away from the drums while dealing with life’s challenges. After a few years of finding myself, I returned to traditional drumming a few years back. Our group showcases our Mi’kmaq culture through song and storytelling.”

John K has also taken part in plays at CBU and says the highlight of his time at the University was when he took part in the Indigenous production Please Do Not Touch The Indians, written by Joseph A. Dandurand. “During this production, our class L’nu Culture in Media and Theatre decided we would act out the same story line but from a Mi’kmaq perspective and renamed it with the writer’s approval to Please Do Not Touch The Mi’kmaq,” John K shares. “Dandurand joined us through Microsoft Teams for one of our play productions at The Boardmore Theatre. I played Mister Wolf, an Uncle sent to prison for a murder he did not commit. The play was really liked by everyone and it included dark, emotional and humourous scenes which are a part of Indigenous People’s reality.”

John K is thankful to the Dean and staff at Unama’ki College who have assisted him in many ways and created a great learning environment at CBU. He appreciates the support and services that are available to Indigenous students and is also grateful to have gained knowledge from having access to an Elder on Campus.

John K says the support he received spanned across the campus from numerous faculty and staff. “While struggling with a learning disability including reading and comprehending skills, the professors and instructors were very accommodating when I reached out to them,” shares John K. “I received the extra help I needed by using resources available within the campus. Being a mature and honest student, I had so much support from many professors and services.”

John K wants people to know that it’s never too late to seek an education. “For anyone who wants to restart their studies, don’t be afraid to take a step in the right direction – learning is a lifelong process and it’s never too late to continue your education,” says John K, “For those students in classes right now, if you are struggling, reach out and get the support you need from professors or support staff on campus.”

We are grateful to have students like John K at the University, who show us that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams. Congratulations to John K and the entire Spring graduating class of 2023!