Young Cree woman aims to reduce school dropout rate in Maskwacis

A young woman has embarked on a major mission to reduce dropout rates at Maskwacis schools

Felisha Crier Hosein addressing Nipishkopahk High School students at the Samson Nation Reserve on Friday

Felisha Crier Hosein addressing Nipishkopahk High School students at the Samson Nation Reserve on Friday

A young woman has embarked on a major mission to reduce dropout rates at Maskwacis schools and she is receiving quite a lot of help in her endeavour from individuals students would look up to as role models.

Born by a Cree mother to a Trinidadian father, Felisha Crier-Hosein, a graduate of University of Alberta with a degree in Psychology, was at the Nipisihkopahk High School at Samson Nation on Friday, Sept. 12 where she explained her effort to the students gathered at the auditorium by beginning with her own journey.

Raised in Trinidad before returning to Canada several years ago, she said she had discovered her true cultural identity after studying Cree language at the university and that it had led to her realization of how strong the First Nations have stood through their trials and tribulations.

“Then I decided that what was needed was to focus on who we are rather than what was done to us as First Nations,” Crier-Hosein told the students.

“We still have what our ancestors had,” she said, stressing that it was up to the new generations of First Nations to find in them the courage and strength of their ancestors and ensure that their heritage would remain vibrant.

Emphasizing the importance of education in this effort, she said she would come to the school with motivational speakers at the beginning and end of every semester to encourage students to remain in school and pursue their goals by first completing their education.

“I hope to be able to do it for at least four years so we can follow a student who comes in to Grade 9 to graduation.” Crier-Hosein said in an interview.

The two motivational speakers she invited to the session was Robb Campre, a former Edmonton Eskimos player and a successful businessman of First Nation origin and Trevor Duplessis, a Cree actor with the popular TV series Blackstone on the APTN network.

Campre, a member of the Fort Mckay First Nation, said in an interview that he would try to give the message that regardless of what of walk of life or what origin or income level an individual comes from every individual has beginnings. “It is not how you start that is important, it is how you finish,” he said. “The journey until you reach your destination is what you make of it.”

Duplessis, for his part, said the biggest message he would try to communicate to the students would be that “play was the first learning tool that we have coming to this world.”

“And this is a wonderful learning tool to keep going back to. That sense of playing and learning at school keeps us energized and helps us retain, learn and grow.”

He said he hoped his message would help the young students find success, maintain a sense of joy in their careers and in their lives.