Some of the core motivations Bree Menge has for helping Indigenous students achieve their university goals come from her own struggles, as well as her culture. Bree is from Eskasoni First Nation, and recently accepted the role of Enrolment Services Specialist – Indigenous Student Success, with Cape Breton University’s Unama’ki College.
Prior to joining the CBU team, Bree was employed with the Eskasoni Band under the Economic Development and Training Department for four years before spending the next five years working with Mi’kmaw Family Children Services. “I started out as the receptionist, worked my way towards becoming a case aide and then I became a family support worker,” Bree explains. However, after experiencing personal family trauma in 2018, Bree had to take a step back from her job as a family support worker. Since then, she has been able to focus on healing, which allowed her to work up the courage to chase her dream of working at CBU. “Creator has a beautiful way of making your dreams a reality,” Bree says.
Within this role, Bree says her main priority is Indigenous students and their success while they are here at CBU. “I’m responsible for working with high school students, scholarships and bursaries, tutoring services and other committees within and outside of the community to help bring initiatives or opportunities to Indigenous students,” Bree explains.
Bree’s biggest motivation is her four children and ensuring they know they can choose any path they want in their life. “I want my children to know that they will have the support of their family, individuals in the institution who are of status, who are L’nu and non-L’nu, and they will see that whatever they decide to dream will become a reality as long as they do the work,” Bree shares.
While working with CBU, Bree is also pursuing her MBA in Community Economic Development. “What I truly believe will allow any individual to succeed in their post-secondary education is drive, desire, an ultimate goal and having those pieces in front of them at all times,” Bree says. “I would not have imagined myself doing an MBA after I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2018, so when I say dream big, dream big!”
Bree admits her first attempt with post-secondary education didn’t go as planned, but seven years later, she came back to CBU and excelled after gaining more work and life experience.
This International Women’s Day, Bree believes it is extremely important for Indigenous and non-Indigenous women to lift one another up, and if we don’t demonstrate this now, the issues women face will continue to exist.
“As Indigenous women, prior to colonialism, women were the leaders of our people,” Bree explains. “Our Indigenous women are starting to recognize that exact fact, and we are now owning our power as women!”