According to Abel Charles, waking up early in Grandmother’s Bay, chopping wood for his family, and commuting three hours a day to LaRonge for school was a challenge, but it was worth it.
“If I wasn’t able to do it here in LaRonge, I wouldn’t have been able to move to the city,” says Abel.
Abel was part of a group of 40 students who were able to complete their university studies on the LaRonge campus of SIFC (Saskatchewan Indian Federated College).
“We were all band members and spoke the language,” says Abel. “If in the city, we may not have been able to maintain the language. It was quite unique to bring courses here.”
“You have support systems here,” he says. “You have elders here to talk to.”
At first, Abel wasn’t sure what program to take.
“I didn’t think about taking Interdisciplinary Studies,” says Abel.
However, he said two years of Interdisciplinary Studies opened his eyes and taught him things he didn’t know.
“(In the) Indian studies courses, I learned about myself, who I was,” he says.
Abel says his courses helped him as the Cree broadcaster/producer and host of “Missinipi Achimowin” on the Missinipi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
“There’s a lot you need to know in this job, First Nations topics and politics, this has helped me a lot,” he says.
“First Nations University built up my self-esteem,” says Abel, who served as an MBC board of directors for 12 years.
Abel appreciates the instructors at FNUniv and the perspectives they shared in the classroom.
“(They) were comfortable using traditional knowledge, not all science-based, both are respected,” says Abel.
But, in the end, Abel says locally available courses are the reason he became a successful alumnus.