Nicole Mercereau is a Métis-Ukrainian Master's student in the USask Department of Educational Administration.
Originally hailing from Duck Lake, SK, Nicole is the first in her immediate family to attend university.
As a child, Nicole loved research and learning more about subjects that interested her. As a graduate researcher, Nicole gets to do the same things that she enjoyed as a child, on a larger scale, with topics that fuel her passion.
Nicole convocated from Saskatchewan Urban Native Teachers Education Program (SUNTEP) in 2004. SUNTEP's recognition and support of Nicole's Métis identity ignited a passion for her heritage. SUNTEP was an inclusive, safe place where she could be her authentic self. SUNTEP provided the missing cultural piece that allowed Nicole to be more aware of Indigenous issues through the unique programming she received throughout her Bachelor of Education. This strong foundation has been the catalyst behind her return to graduate studies as she's begun to view the world through a different lens as a parent with Métis children who are in the education system.
After an 18-year hiatus from education, Nicole believed that further education was the key to a better life for her family and would allow her to make a better world for her Métis children (Georgia, age 5, and Dominic, age 8) and community. After completing her Master's, Nicole plans to begin her PhD studies, with the long-term goal of remaining in post-secondary education to teach and conduct research.
Nicole feels blessed to be supervised by Dr. Gordon Martell, who has done noteworthy work for Indigenous education both locally and across Canada. He has provided Nicole with strong support and guidance with his vision and experiential knowledge.
In addition to being a graduate student, Nicole is a research assistant for Métis professor Dr. Carmen Gillies, who has been an influential mentor for her as she learns more about research. Throughout her graduate studies journey, Nicole has been a graduate teaching assistant in the College of Education’s Educational Foundations and Educational Administration departments.
Nicole's research focuses on Métis education in publicly funded education through a contemporary and historical lens by revisiting generations of Nicole's family's educational experiences as Métis learners. Historically, educational systems have not been kind to Indigenous people, and through addressing systemic barriers and biases, more equitable education can be realized.
By addressing shortfalls in policy, Nicole looks forward to a future where my Métis children can see themselves reflected in school curricula as opposed to a tokenistic, sprinkling of content. She hopes to use her privilege of higher education to make a positive change for the Métis community.
Notable USask Awards:
- 2023 Indigenous Scholars Award (Social Science and Humanities Research Council)
- 2023 Gordon McCormack Memorial Graduate Scholarship for Native Students (College of Education)
Other Indigenous scholars
Jennifer Amarualik-Yaremko is an Inuk MA student in the USask Department of Political Studies.
Jennifer lived in Nunavut until the age of 8, and then moved to Alberta in pursuit of a better education. She was shocked by the quality difference between the Nunavut and Alberta educational systems, and she wants to provide every Inuk, Métis, and First Nations child with the same opportunities she had. Her work focuses on decolonizing education policy in Nunavut and advocating for a stronger Indigenous voice at decision-making levels across all sectors of research, development, education, and service delivery.
Jennifer thinks that real decolonization of any institution cannot happen without Indigenous people. She also thinks that we have a duty to honor the Treaties and the people who came before us, so she is always working to end structural ignorance and make it easier for people with diverse viewpoints to understand and learn from each other.
Notable USask Awards:
- 2023 Award for Community Engagement (College of Arts & Science)
- 2022 Mabel F. Timlin Award for Indigenous Students in Political Studies (College of Arts & Science)
About Jennifer's Regalia
Jennifer takes great pride in wearing her traditional regalia in her day-to-day life, as well as for life's significant moments. In the provided photo (right), Jennifer explains each piece of her regalia and what they mean to her:
"My necklace is a piece of beadwork done by my mom's sister, Najalaa/Salome Amarualik, before she was lost as one of our Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. I wear it to big events like graduations, talks and presentations I give, as she is one of my namesakes and I feel the need to represent her in my life's events.
"The green top is in the traditional Inuit style of an amautii, a woman's overcoat that traditionally has a space in the hood for a child. However, my grandmother made me that coat for me without the hood on purpose, as I'm supposed to be in school! It's waterproof, windproof, and the tie can be tightened or loosened like a belt.
"The moccasins were saved form a thrift store by my mom, they feature traditional Southern Canadian Indigenous flowers and plants beaded on the vamp and going up the boot along the ankle. They also have summer rabbit fur pompoms on the strings that lace them up.
"My ribbon skirt was picked out for me and bought from the Wanuskewin gift shop for my birthday this year. It's still special to me despite the relative lack of familial history, as it has pockets!"
Ian Worme, Indigenous Initiatives Coordinator
Ian is a registered band member with Kawacatoose First Nation in Treaty 4 through his father and from Chisasibi in Eeyou Ishee (situated on the James Bay coastline of Quebec) through his mother. He is a USask alumnus, receiving his Bachelor of Education through the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) in 2010 and earning his Master’s of Public Administration through Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) in 2021.
Ian’s role serves as a support to Indigenous graduate students and a cultivator of the Indigenous community at CGPS.