Acceptance and Education: Marie Joesyounen’s story.

Marie Joesyounen

Marie Joesyounen found acceptance where she least expected it, at an educational institution.

Marie was born at Wollaston Lake, but was placed in a foster home at birth. The Métis family that she grew up in was very supportive but they weren’t very connected to their Métis culture.

While going to school in Prince Albert, she had many non-Aboriginal teachers. Like most children, Marie wasn’t aware that anyone saw her differently because of her race. She loved sports and was on numerous school teams.

When she was 11, her foster parents encouraged her to visit her grandparents at Wollaston Lake. It was a good experience and so she continued to visit during school breaks, including Christmas.

The first time she experience racism was in high school when a coach wouldn’t let her join school athletic teams. After that, she felt like an outsider and it left her with a bad impression of educational institutions.

Marie finished high school in 1985 and immediately moved to Wollaston Lake, where she got married and had three children. In the late 1990s, she was able to take the majority of her post-secondary teacher training there.

She finally came to Saskatchewan Indian Federated Collage (SIFC) for the last semester of her degree.

Marie was able to take her youngest son with her, but she had to leave her husband and two eldest sons behind.

“It was hard to do but I had to do it,” she says.

Marie expected the university to be all lectures and homework. She didn’t think it was going to be anything special, but soon realized she wasn’t just a student and this wasn’t just any school.

“Being there was like being with family,” Marie says.

Staff members made a special effort to include the northern students in feasts and sweat lodges.

“I never would have got that somewhere else,” she says.

Marie’s professor even understood her problems getting to class on time while parenting on her own.

Marie graduated in 1999 with her Bachelor in Education and has been teaching in Wollaston Lake for the past 17 years.