On Monday, February 25, the University of Sudbury (Ontario, Canada) hosted a Graduate Panel Discussion Series entitled Landing that Job… What I Need to Know Before I Graduate. Four graduate students (seen in photo)—Mia Bourque (B.A. Indigenous Studies), Lisa Knauz (B.A. Psychology; M.A. Applied Social Research), Jacynthe Lortie (B.A. Music) and Josh Wong (B.A. Law and Justice and Indigenous Studies)—made up the panel of experts who answered questions and offered advice to soon-to-be graduates.

SAY Magazine was fortunate to have been able to connect with panel presenter Mia Bourque, who is a Master’s Candidate on the topic of the recent panel discussion. Bourque is an Algonquin woman from Fort-Coulonge, Québec, Canada, currently in her second year of the Masters of Indigenous Relations program at Laurentian University—her research focuses on Indigenous women in administrative positions in academia.

In 2017 she completed a Bachelor of Arts (honours) with a major in Indigenous Studies at the University of Sudbury and a minor in Theatre. She currently works as the Indigenous Resource person for the Association des Étudiantes et Étudiants Francophones, providing resources to French-speaking Indigenous students on campus. With a great deal of experience, she offers heartfelt words of advice for Indigenous students who might be anxious about graduating and what comes next.

Here’s what she had to say: “During my time at Laurentian University and the University of Sudbury, I have really grown into myself as an Indigenous woman, and I don’t think I would be where I am today without the Indigenous Studies program, the support from the on-campus Elders, the services geared to Indigenous students, and the staff and faculty.

What do Indigenous students need to know before they graduate? My advice is to reach out to your Indigenous Student Services and utilize those resources and spaces as much as you can. The people working in those centres are some of the most hard-working, caring people that you will ever meet. They will keep you grounded, focused and motivated throughout and after your studies.

These people are also well connected within the community and can help you access different networking opportunities, whether that is through work fairs, community gatherings or conferences. Furthermore, you need to make yourself and your needs a priority. As Indigenous students we tend to carry a lot of weight on our shoulders from our communities, our families and our many other responsibilities.

It is so important that you honour yourself—especially during the hectic times during your studies—and that you take care of you. Creating boundaries are important. Difficult conversations can take place if you feel it will help you, but allowing yourself to say no and not engage is okay too, as talking about different traumas can be emotionally exhausting. These boundaries are crucial for your well-being.

I wish each of you the best of luck during your academic studies and in your future endeavors.”