Clayton Desjarlais had to work hard when he first came to the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC). Unlike many of his fellow students, Clayton was starting with a General Educational Development (GED) and not a formal high school diploma.
He says first he hard to work hard just to get in to SIFC. Once he was accepted, Clayton says he lacked some of the educational experience and support you get from getting a high school diploma and at times it was hard to keep up with his peers.
But Clayton preserved and found supports to help him adjust to academia. And to this day he fondly remembers his academic journey and the fellow students, instructors, elders, and other colleagues he was fortunate enough to meet along the way.
Clayton says it all culminated in one glorious moment.
“Walking down the aisle way to get my master’s degree,” says Clayton. “I was glad to be done.”
Clayton says he created his master’s thesis and the late Dr. Oliver Brass guided him through it.
The two met many times to look for ways to overcome obstacles, and their sessions helped Clayton keep his momentum and drive to finish. Also, Dr. Brass was the first registered Indigenous man to get a Doctorate in Saskatchewan, and he was a role model for Clayton to follow in the pursuit of his own master’s degree in Indian Studies.
“The thing about the federated college, the idea that there’s an Aboriginal philosophy with Aboriginal academics,” explains Clayton. “It goes a long way with any one of the many educated and qualified Aboriginal people, which is a positive impact.”
For the last twenty years, Clayton has been running his own consulting business in Regina, Saskatchewan – Mawandonan Consulting. His firm develops and delivers high-quality, professional development workshops such as: leadership, conflict resolution, and team building. In 2011, Clayton added Aboriginal consultation which is mainly conducted in Alberta.
Clayton’s hard work paid off and his determination to get a good education is inspiring for future generations.