Christine Deiter says she learned a lot of important life skills while attending the First Nations University of Canada, including how to become successful in both business and personal spheres.
She graduated from the university in 1993 with a Bachelor of Indigenous studies.
Today, at 46-years-old, she says she is a true Cree gypsy, a community activist, a personal trainer, professional powwow dancer, powwow singer, beader, and is always traveling North America participating in events. She is living her dreams and doing what she loves; however, it wasn’t always this way.
“I live my life my own way; the way that I see I should live it,” explains Christine. “I ceremony all year around, I Sundance in the spring and powwow all summer, I have an amazing life and am so blessed.”
Christine went to high school in north Regina, and says she was the only Indigenous person out of 185 students to graduate from Thom Collegiate that year.
When she arrived at the First Nations University of Canada, Christine says she finally felt accepted as an Indigenous woman. She praises the help she received from professors and student advisors at the university and says it all came with a personal touch thanks to the smaller class sizes.
Christine wasn’t always a gypsy. Before making the decision to change her lifestyle and follow her dreams, Christine worked in a number of organizations across the country and has numerous accomplishments and contributions under her belt.
“I don’t make as much money now as when I was working,” says Christine. “But I am much happier now doing what I love.”
Christine was the first Aboriginal Victim Services Worker for the Regina Police Service and was the manager of Justice Insights for the Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centre, overseeing an 8 million dollar budget. There, she supported court workers, justice specialists, and also gave briefings on current issues in Ontario, with the goal of trying to lower incarceration rates and improve treatment of Indigenous people.
“I feel that people are still in a post-colonial mindset of resentment,” says Christine. “People need to realize they are free, take charge of their own lives, and quite blaming the system.”
The Deiter family has a long legacy at First Nations University of Canada as Christine’s mother graduated at 56-years-old with a Bachelor of Linguistics. Her three sisters also graduated from FNUniv. Now a third generation of Deiter women is also at the university; Christine’s daughter, who she was pregnant with while she attended FNUniv, is now also attending FNUniv.
“I remember when I was 9 months pregnant going to school and couldn’t fit in the desk, I had my daughter and finished school,” says Christine. “18 years later she was pregnant in school doing the exact same thing.”
Christine says she learned a lot of things in school. But the lessons she values the most are the things that have helped her grow as a person and laid the foundation for her life today. That wisdom she openly shares with everyone.
“Know your community, budget your money, and don’t forget who you are,” says Christine.