SASKATOON — While studying at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), Indigenous student Jade Badger found that the course material of her sociology degree resonated with her.
“As an Indigenous woman, my family has felt the impact of settler colonialism and intergenerational trauma,” she said. “It’s really crucial to continue challenging colonial structures and systems, and to keep advocating for justice.”
The College of Arts and Science student will be graduating at the 2023 University of Saskatchewan (USask) Spring Convocation on June 6 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with a minor in crime, law and justice, and settler colonialism.
Many of the classes Badger took for her sociology degree focused on colonial gender violence and the justice system. The courses highlighted how colonialism has integrated itself into society and systems, including education.
“When I first started classes on campus, I found it really challenging and it was really isolating,” she said. “I think for a lot of Indigenous students, I think they find it really isolating to be in such a big place. It’s hard for everyone, but I think Indigenous students face a lot of different barriers, systemic barriers.”
From Cote First Nation located in Treaty 4 territory, Badger moved to Saskatoon to begin studying at USask in 2017. Though she faced personal challenges, she continued with her studies.
“It was really hard at first to adapt to (university), but I kept going and found a lot of friends after my first three years. I met a lot of people from different backgrounds and people who are similar to me, and it really helped me get through.”
In 2020, Badger earned a Certificate in Indigenous Governance and Politics.
“The certificate really helped me understand the significance of self-governance and sovereignty and the revitalization of traditional governance systems. I think if anyone gets a chance to get that (certificate), I’d encourage them to,” she added.
While attending university in 2021, Badger worked for a member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, Betty Nippi-Albright. In 2022, she was a summer student through the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which provided her with hands-on experience.
“That really showed me how governance is in Saskatchewan for Indigenous people.”
Recently, Badger received notice that she had won the Canadian Sociological Association (CSA-SCS) Outstanding Graduating Student Award at USask. The award was established by the CSA-SCS as a way to assist universities and sociology departments across the country to recognize their top graduating honours, master’s and PhD students. Recipients are nominated by their respective departments.
“I’m grateful for the Department of Sociology and all they’ve done for me in my last year of school."
“I was so surprised, and it felt good to be recognized by the Department (of Sociology),” Badger said.
She appreciated the assistance she received from the Department of Sociology throughout her studies, including the support she received from associate professor Dr. Julie Kaye (PhD).
“I’m grateful for the Department of Sociology and all they’ve done for me in my last year of school. It was really hard. I went through a lot of personal things and my course load was really heavy, but they were honestly some of the most compassionate and understanding people I’ve ever met.”
Looking to the future, Badger is planning to take a year off from school to gain more practical working experience and advocate for Indigenous rights, including missing and murdered Indigenous women, as well as Indigenous children in the welfare system. She also plans to apply to the graduate program in the Department of Sociology to earn her master’s degree, with a focus on settler colonialism.
“When I started my first year, I didn’t think I would ever finish a bachelor’s (degree),” Badger said. “I had some really hard years where I thought, ‘It’s never going to happen.’ Now to be here, I want to keep going. Just to be able to focus on what I’m passionate about feels so exciting.”
— Submitted by USask Media Relations