The Student Becomes the Teacher

Shannon Avison

Shannon Avison could have never guessed that when she enrolled in the Indian Communication Arts Program (INCA) she would one day lead the program.

When Shannon became a tutor at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC), it opened her up to new cultures and a new perspective on life itself. After completing her work as a tutor, Shannon made a plan.

“I was going to wait a year and apply to Journalism school at the University of Regina,” says Shannon. That’s when she heard about the INCA program.

While growing up in the Yukon, Shannon didn’t have the opportunity to learn much about Aboriginal people and their culture.

This changed drastically when she enrolled in INCA.

Despite being non-Aboriginal, Shannon says she was welcomed by her classmates and also says she gained knowledge about Aboriginal history and culture at the school as well.

“There are two kinds of learning,” says Shannon. “I learned the facts but I learned the heart too, and how people truly survive. I didn’t read it in a textbook. I saw it in my classmates.”

SIFC provided Shannon with a foundation for the work she wanted to do in the journalism field.

Shannon took on several different projects at Saskatchewan Indian and Northern Affairs Secretariat, Saskatchewan Indian Agriculture Program (SIAP,) and SaskPower.

However, feeling the need to gain further knowledge on Aboriginal people, Shannon decided to go back to school to work on a degree in Indian Studies.

Upon her return, Shannon was asked to teach introductory level classes on writing, radio, and television. This opportunity led Shannon to her current position as Assistant Professor in the INCA program at FNUniv.

Shannon now works with students pursuing their INCA certificate while encouraging them to form contacts, find others who want to help, and be open to new opportunities.

“When somebody offers you an opportunity, believe in it,” says Shannon. “Believe that that’s a gift and that you should receive it and do your very best with it.”

by Paige Devernichuk