From the First Class of Graduates: Sid Fiddler Reflects on Hope

Sid Fiddler is from Waterhen Lake First Nation and graduated in 1976 with a Certificate in Social Work. He recalls the days when he was one of the first students to graduate as part of the first graduating class from the First Nations University of Canada, wearing the sky blue graduation gowns for the first time.

“It was a really good time to feel hope,” says Sid. “And to feel that ‘hey we are finally starting to do something in that area of higher education.’”

Sid went on to graduate in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts at FNUniv and in 1988 he completed his Master of Social Work at the University of Regina. Before completing his degrees, Sid was also asked to run for Chief of Waterhen Lake FN and went on to win the election.

The former chief also worked with the university as an administrator and taught in the Social Work program at FNUniv.

“Being a former chief, I was able to work with the political leadership in the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN),” says Sid. “And the senior management at FNUniv, those were some of the things I really enjoyed working with.”

Going into university, Sid wanted to understand Western society and wanted to use school as an opportunity to study Indigenous history, politics, philosophy and issues. Those things interested him greatly. He also wanted to analyze the Western mindset and look at how Indigenous people could deal with colonized state of affairs, including the institutions and individuals living both on and off reserve.

Now retired, Sid helps coordinate and assist in a lot of Indigenous ceremonies in several communities. From sweat lodges to workshops on health and residential schools, Sid enjoys work in his retirement, especially speaking with young people about Indigenous knowledge.

“You get a degree, [or] get your master’s degree and there is no way that when you have that they can put you down or say that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or find some justification as to not to listen, because they’ve got no choice now,” explains Sid. “You’ve mastered the terminology, the way of thinking, you’ve mastered the statistics and you’re able to use that to your advocate for change.”

by Raven Sage Brass