How Cultural Studies Is Life Changing

Stories are very powerful. John Andresen, incoming President of the Rotary Club of High River, recently read a story about Eden Valley First Nations Student, Tylie Jimmy John graduating from Oilfields High School in June 2021. Thousands of students graduate this year but this story made him act.

Jimmy John had changed schools numerous times and her academics suffered. She almost withdrew from her studies but because of her grandmother, she agreed to continue to high school. While attending Oilfields High School, an optional course changed her life of academics. A Circle of Courage aboriginal studies class included workshops and conferences which taught about culture and the importance of academics. She received the Honouring Spirit Award: Indigenous Student Award for showing strength and commitment to pursue her personal education path. She realized how hard it was to get that far.

In her final year of high school, Jimmy John’s academics alternated between at home learning and school which meant many hurdles to overcome. She managed to continue on her path and to earn additional credits, took on a project about cultural teachings and traditions of making regalia for Indigenous dances. She completed all her credits and WALKED across the stage in June to join with her classmates.  Congratulations graduate!

John Andresen went to work and contacted the high school to find out how Rotary can work in partnership. His Rotary club and another club, the Okotoks Club are exploring a partnership to provide an annual scholarship that will assist Indigenous students pursue post-secondary education. There was support available to assist the two Eden Valley First Nation graduates this year which will ensure they can continue on their path of further education.

Jimmy John has been accepted into the Mount Royal University’s Indigenous University Bridging program which removes barriers and supports Indigenous students pursuing post-secondary undergraduate studies. She is pursuing a criminal justice program to give back to her community when she returns home.