Posted on June 28, 2012 by Tia Lalani

Graduating with a B.A. in English, Lori chose to be presented with an Eagle Feather in an Honouring Ceremony that serves to recognize the academic accomplishments of Aboriginal graduands.

by Petra Cegielny

Lori Myers is a proud new member of U of A’s Augustana Alumni and one of four Aboriginal students conferred degrees during the campus’ 2012 Convocation Ceremony. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, Lori chose to be presented with an Eagle Feather in an Honouring Ceremony that served to recognize the gifts and academic accomplishments of graduating Aboriginal students. The Eagle Feather was awarded on stage during Convocation by Elder Don Johnson from the Samson Cree Nation.

Growing up near Williams Lake, BC, Lori is a member of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and is proud to call the small community of Nemiah Valley her home. She began her studies at Thompson Rivers University and transferred to Augustana at the end of her second year.

Over the past three years, she has been an active member of Augustana’s Aboriginal community. In addition to volunteering at numerous Aboriginal Student Office events, during the Winter 2011 term, Lori was the seminar leader for Native Studies 200, a course offered by the Faculty of Native Studies and simultaneously broadcast by video-conferencing at Augustana. She also had a hand in helping to design the beautiful banner and display case located in the Augustana Forum, which serves to welcome and signify the presence of Aboriginal students on campus.

Furthermore, over the past two years, Lori volunteered as a campus Aboriginal Student Mentor. In this leadership position, she has been a role model and friend to several new First Nation and Métis students studying on campus. Her efforts earned her a 2012 Augustana Onesimus Award – a leadership award presented to a select group of students in recognition of their significant contribution to the welfare of Augustana.

The Centenary Round Dance and meeting Susan Aglukark are among Lori’s favourite memories of Augustana. “(Susan) is from a small community herself and is recognized on an international level. She had a lot of trials and barriers that she had to overcome to get to where she is today. I have a lot of respect for her and I just really appreciated that she took the time to meet with students on the Augustana Campus.”

When asked if there is a particular class or professor that stands out in her mind Lori responded, “Definitely the Aboriginal literature course that Dr. Roxanne Harde taught. It opened my eyes and gave me some insight in the direction I want to take to further my education. I really appreciated the way Roxanne structured it and I learned a lot from the course.”

However, it was two other classes that most influenced the way she now thinks and looks at the world. “Dr. Yvonne Becker’s Sex, Gender and Society course. Before taking Yvonne’s course, I never thought of this from a different perspective – how society pushes gender roles and stereotypes. (This course) has definitely changed the way I see the world. And then also, of course, Native Studies. Reading the articles was world changing information for me because, as a First Nations growing up, from a small community in BC, I thought I had a good grasp of the social dynamics of Aboriginal people in Canada. I didn’t know that there was actually an academic perspective to these issues. It was cool to have my eyes opened up to this and learn that there are reasons why we live on reserves, the political background, and why our land is being regulated.”

When crossing the stage at Convocation, Lori felt, “very excited, happy and very proud of my accomplishment. I was very happy that I could share it with so many of my family, friends, staff and professors who helped me get there.”

“I was shaking when I received my Eagle Feather. There aren’t really any words to describe it. I am very humbled to have the opportunity to receive this honour and was so scared to not drop it! It definitely made my convocation that much better. I am thankful that the U of A recognizes its Aboriginal students in such a highly regarded way.”

When asked what she will miss after she graduates, Lori shared, “I’ll miss Augustana in general, going to school, the professors. I’m actually a huge nerd and will miss going to class and writing papers!”

“I’ll always proudly say I’m a graduate of the Augustana Campus. I’ve gained a large set of skills from the courses I’ve taken and volunteering at Augustana, and know that I have the education backing to pursue whatever I want.”

This was Augustana’s sixth Honouring Ceremony since the tradition was adopted from the U of A’s North Campus in 2008. The Aboriginal Students Office would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to Lori and to all of Augustana’s 2012 Aboriginal graduates, and wish them continued success as they continue their path of lifelong learning.

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