I earned my grade 12 diploma through West Lynn Heights School in Lynn Lake, Mb. I then moved to Brandon to attend University and I will be graduating in May with a four year Bachelor of Arts, with an honors in Native Studies and a minor in Sociology.
What accomplishments are you proud of?
Throughout high school I was heavily involved with the Friendship Centre and volunteering within the community. I was president of the Eagle Feather Youth Council for two years at the ages of 17 and 18. This time of my life was very important to me because it taught me about myself, how I loved interacting with the community and helping people. It gave me a sense of pride in myself and helped to form who I am today. At the age of 18 I went into the Bold Eagle program, which is an entry program for the Military that is held in Wainwright, Alberta. This course was one of the hardest things that I have ever done but nothing can explain how proud I was to be walking across the marching square with the graduating class. I have also been awarded the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Silver and Gold for Volunteering.
In my second year of university I found the Indigenous Peoples Centre (IPC). I have been President of the Aboriginal Student Council for the past two years and our council has made amazing changes to the Centre. We hold many activities within the IPC for students such as pot lucks, cultural workshops, and sharing circles. We also organize a Round Dance, an Elders Gathering, and a Graduation Pow Wow. This year we also organized an Aboriginal Students Orientation. Additionally, I along with the rest of the council fought to have renovations done to the Indigenous Peoples Centre, along with having three employees hired to give the students better resources for completing their studies. These positions were all filled in January 2013.
One of my most recent accomplishments has been the work that I have done for the Idle No More movement, using this opportunity to bring awareness to Brandon about the changes that the community is hoping for. I worked alongside others in organizing the peaceful protest and round dance that was held on 18th Street and Victoria Avenue in January. We also held an Idle No More info session in January and this February we have presented to the City Council and also to the Aboriginal Peoples Council and have happily gained their support.
Lastly, completing University as a single mother of a two year old daughter while working and also staying involved with the Aboriginal Students Council will be my greatest accomplishment so far.
Tell me about yourself/ your background/ your history.
I am a member of Grand Rapids First Nation and grew up in Lynn Lake Mb, where I earned my Grade 12 diploma. My background is Anishinabe and Cree. I grew up in the northern isolated community of Lynn Lake until I was 18 finding joy in sports, coaching Tae-Kwon-Do and running dogs.
When I graduated from high school I moved to Brandon to attend University. This proved to be difficult as I was 13 hours away from family and in a city that I was not familiar with. In my second year of University I had my daughter Shaynen Halkett. I was in classes until I was 7 months pregnant and went back when she was 3 months old. Being a single mother I was now more focused then ever to complete my studies and make the best life that I could for my daughter and me. It was also around this time that I became involved with the Aboriginal Students Council and found a passion for helping students find resources to complete their studies while making their university experience a positive one. Coming from an isolated community and knowing the difficulties of attending university without a support system as an Aboriginal student made me want to make sure that I would do whatever I could to help students so they would not have to go through the same experience. I also wanted to make sure they would further their education, not only for themselves but for their families, and their community.
How did you become interested in your field of study?
I have always been proud to be an Aboriginal woman, and seeing the difficulties that my family and community have gone through has always made me want to become educated so that I can start to make changes in my community. Learning about who I am and my history through native studies has helped me in understanding what needs to be changed. Through sociology I learned about our society today, and how I can help to make a change for the better.
What is your philosophy in life?
My philosophy of life is to live each day to the fullest; don’t ever take anything for granted. Life is precious and we need to appreciate all aspects of it. Also to have faith in that everything happens for a reason, we have a purpose and with hard work we can overcome anything and accomplish whatever goal we have set in place.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
In my future I see myself with a healthy, happy baby girl, living somewhere where I can have my dogs and with a job where I am helping people, hopefully, one where I am going back to Aboriginal communities and bringing traditional governance and healing back to the families.
Julia Stoneman-Sinclair is a 4th year BU student working towards her Honours Degree in Native Studies. As President of the Brandon University Aboriginal Student Council (BUASC), Julia is an exceptional leader and role-model for all students on campus. Julia successfully manages to balance her responsibilities as a parent, student and volunteer – devoting countless hours alongside the Aboriginal Student Council members to ensure Aboriginal students on campus have a welcoming, supportive and culturally relevant place to study and grow.
Originally from northern Manitoba community of Lynn Lake – Julia understands first-hand the struggles students face in their transition to University. She is an outspoken activist for the “Idle No More” movement and has worked countless hours promoting peaceful demonstrations and educational opportunities with the Aboriginal Student Council.
Julia maintains a positive attitude even in the face of adversity. She is a driven young woman who should be recognized as an exceptional female student as part of International Woman’s Day.