SCN’s Quill is being recognized as a future leader for Indigenous people

Published on Tuesday, 21 June 2022 08:07

There’s a future leader in the making who is originally from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation (SCN). Zoe Quill is currently studying at the University of Manitoba in the Faculty of Science and she’s recently been awarded the 2022 Indigenous Award of Excellence for Student Outstanding Achievement through the university. Her academic pursuits in the field of science are opening doors to a promising future for her.
“I was awarded the BMO Financial Group Indigenous Leader of Tomorrow Scholarship to study at the University of Manitoba in 2018,” said Quill. “I entered directly into the Faculty of Science with interest in pursuing Genetics. Throughout high school, I was always interested in the sciences and wanted to explore these fields more in-depth at university.”
Quill has been contributing to researching internships, which has allowed her to combine her science background and work with Indigenous communities. This has allowed her to start her own journey as an Indigenous leader in the realm of science.
“While pursuing my degree, I have had the pleasure of participating in four research internships,” said Quill. “For two of these internships, I was given an opportunity to combine my knowledge of the sciences and work closely with Indigenous communities. I have come to witness the resilience of Indigenous peoples and their ambition in becoming self-determined in research.
“It was inspiring to my own journey to be able to collaborate with leaders of the community and take part in supporting their success. Indigenous representation is growing among the science community, and I hope to always empower Indigenous scholars and communities through research.”
Quill recognizes the challenges that many Indigenous students face while attending any schooling. She is focused on harbouring and fostering nurturing environments for other Indigenous students by being a leader and mentor to them.
“I recognize that there are barriers that Indigenous students still face and gaps in the supports that are available,” said Quill. “As an Indigenous student, it was important to me to create a positive and supportive environment.
“I achieved these efforts through community involvement. I became a mentor to first-year Indigenous students to provide guidance in facilitating a smooth transition into university life and participated in question and answer sessions as an UN Ambassador, sharing personal experiences to prospective students. I also became the Indigenous Students’ Representative for the Science Students’ Association to advocate and uplift Indigenous student excellence in the Faculty of Science. In this position, I have hosted culturally informed events for Indigenous students as a way to support their well-being.
Quill is persevering in the field of Science and has plans to attend graduate school. She has been determined and dedicated in her research, and gaining experiences that will help her to pursue that goal of obtaining a MD or PhD.
“I’m pursuing a Bachelor of Science, Genetics Major,” said Quill. “I have only one more year to go. Since I’m planning on attending graduate school, I sought opportunities to conduct research at both Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the National Microbiology Laboratory of Canada. These experiences will give me the opportunity to explore my interests in Public Health.
“So far, I have gathered four years of research experience in various fields. I have published two peer-review papers and am currently working on publishing three more by the time I graduate.
“I have always had the goal of becoming a doctor and recently, research has become a passion of mine,” said Quill. “After graduation, I’m planning to pursue a Master of Science in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases that combines aspects of Public Health. Then, I will pursue either a MD or PhD. In research, I hope to always incorporate collaboration with Indigenous communities.”
With National Indigenous Peoples Day happening, Quill has been advocating to see more positive changes for Indigenous people. She feels her experience can be an example for others to overcome any obstacles they may face and be leaders for Indigenous people.
“As an Indigenous student heavily involved on campus and in research,” said Quill. “I have had the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who are driven, resilient, and aspire to create changes that advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples. To be part of a community that seeks to empower the next generation of Indigenous leaders, I am always motivated to contribute to these efforts.
“There is evidence that despite the hardships we have endured, we have the power to not only overcome these obstacles but to thrive as a community. I believe National Indigenous Peoples Day promotes a positive message describing this very strength every Indigenous person carries within them.”
Quill realizes that the process has been slow when it comes to the reconciliation portion for Indigenous people in Canada, but she focuses on the Indigenous people who are achieving reconciliation and pushing forward for a better and brighter future.
“I recognize that we still have a long way to go in fulfilling the 94 Calls to Action, but action is happening,” said Quill. “There are many Indigenous leaders in the community whom I met that are breaking barriers in their fields and contributing to the efforts of reconciliation.
“I have had my fair share of hardships experiencing discrimination, but I am motivated to continue to uplift Indigenous voices and support our movements of self-determination.“

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