Student Success Stories

Here are students personal stories about their education journey
Justine Louis

Justine Louis

Bachelors of Arts
Major in Fine Arts

Justine Louis is a 26-year-old Samson Cree Nation post-secondary student alumnus. Her interests are art, travelling, and learning languages. Justine holds a Bachelors of Arts,major in Fine Arts, degree from the University of Alberta which she obtained in 2013. She is currently an educational assistant at Nipisihkopahk Elementary School for grades 4, 5 and 6. She also operates her own business for residential painting called Jus’Paint. Justines community involvement is collaborating with Maskwacis Health Services in organizing art related activities for program participants. She is currently compiling an art portfolio with the goal of being accepted into an international fine arts graduate program. Her most recent accomplishments include her painting being featured on the academic journal “Routledge” for Biography Studies. Justine continues to share her gifts with the community and strives to maintain a positive and healthy lifestyle.

“My parents have always encouraged me to pursue education, motivating me and pushing me to excel in my schoolwork. I’ve always been interested in art and art making right from an early age.  When I graduated from high school I enrolled with the University of Alberta’s Augustana campus.  I started in the general studies program because I didn’t know what area of study I’d be interested in but I ended up sticking with what I knew best, drawing and painting.  I even transitioned to the Alberta College of Art + Design in Calgary for one year to study other types of art such as photography, design, fiber studies (which included paper making, basket weaving and felt making), and of course, painting and drawing.

Having access to this kind of education has opened up a world of opportunity such as traveling and exploring a variety of studies.  I’ve made friends and met so many inspiring young people along the way.  I’ve built connections and networks with people for employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.  Along with all these great things I also got to further my technical skills and gain more knowledge about the hobbies I am truly passionate about, art and art making.

Education is a wonderful opportunity, especially for many aboriginal students because there are so many scholarships, bursaries and grants available to us that are not advertised so apply whenever you can.

Advice for current and future students:

Take advantage of all the help available to you on campus.  School gets stressful or overwhelming but life kind of happens like that.  Sometimes things get heavy but then they let up.  Take it all one day at a time, all at your own pace.  And make sure you have someone to talk to about those stressful days or hard times. Do what you truly love and follow your dreams and aspirations!  Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from pursuing the things that make you happy!  Lastly, you’re never too old to pursue an education, there’s no age limit on learning!  And have fun, education isn’t just about homework!

“Don’t worry if you’re not where you want to be yet.  Great things take time.”

Justine has achieved so much is such a short time. Some of her major accomplishments include:


  1. Showcasing her artwork for the Spring Soiree, a school event dedicated to celebrating innovation and student learning, at the University of Alberta
  2. Showcasing her art work for the opening of the  Wakotawin Lodge, the native student centre at the University of Alberta Augustana campus
  3. Her artwork featured in the University of Calgary Social Work Collection.


Grant Bruno

Grant Bruno

Bachelor of Arts
Major in Native Studies
2nd year in Masters of Science in Risk and Community Resilience

Grant Bruno is a 30-year-old Samson Cree Nation post-secondary student. His passion is creating better outcomes for Indigenous people’s health. Grant Bruno graduated from the University of Alberta in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies, along with a certificate of Aboriginal Governance and Partnership from the Faculty of Native Studies. He has recently finished his first year in the Masters of Science in Risk and Community Resilience in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology. He is currently a research associate for the ENRICH project which is aimed at improving maternal health in pregnancy and postpartum by finding innovative ways to promote healthy weights and healthy eating. His academic achievements include winning various scholarships, co-authoring two academic journals, and sitting on University of Alberta committee’s. Grant’s goals are to purse a health related Ph.D to positively influence Indigenous communities across Canada.

Grant’s Personal Story about his Educational Journey

Then one day in my early 20’s I found out I was having twin boys and was faced with the decision to either work in industry or go back to school, and thankfully I was guided to the right path. I had no idea of how being a student again was going to work or whether or not I’d drop out again, but I made a promise to my sons that I was going to finish. I was and still am determined to carve out a better life for my boys. Native Studies was the perfect program for myself because of the how much support students receive throughout the programs, and how tight knit the community is.

Education is what removes our doubts and fears; what makes us happy and peaceful; what makes us better human beings, and as we all know, education is the key to success. It gives us knowledge from the world around us, while opening doors to brilliant opportunities. Education builds confidence to make decisions, to face life, and to accept life’s failures. Education is vital to social unity and has the power to strengthen and promote unity within communities”.

Grant’s Advice for Current and Future Students

For future students I challenge to take that first step on their post-secondary journey. For current students I challenge them to use their voices.

Additional Comments Grant Would Like to Share

I am a high school drop out. I still do not have a high school diploma. The first time I attempted to go to college I dropped out again. I remember being in my early 20’s and looking into my future and seeing darkness. No opportunities, no prospects, no hope, but it was through educational journey that I was able to overcome a lot of the barriers I have faced.”

“Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children”
– Sitting Bull

The ENRICH Project

Through the ENRICH Project I am working with my home community of Maskwacis. By working together with a First Nations Advisory Committee from Maskwacis, ENRICH is learning how pregnant women could be better supported through three different studies to date. One study is examining how Elders can mentor pregnant women by meeting them at prenatal visits. A second study has interviewed health care providers in a town close to the First Nations community and we have asked these providers about how they could better support pregnant women from within their practice. A third study is just getting underway and is aimed at understanding men’s and dad’s perspectives in pregnancy and postpartum.

Grant has achieved so much is such a short time. Some of his major accomplishments include:

  1. One academic journal published “Kikiskawâwasow – prenatal healthcare provider perceptions of effective care for First Nations women: an ethnographic community-based participatory research study”.
  2. In press with a second publication currently under review, “Ohtâwîmâw Ispiciwin – Perceptions of Supportive Cree Fathers during Pregnancy: Findings from the ENRICH Study”.
  3. Presenting his findings from the men’s study at the The 2017 Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) Congress in the Netherlands.
  4. Student member on the steering committee for the National Building Reconciliation Forum that was hosted by the University of Alberta. The forum brought together Presidents, Chancellors, and Administrators from across Canada to discuss how post-secondary institutions can effectively and appropriately implement the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action
  5. Member on the planning committee for the Indigenous Graduation Student Association at the University of Alberta.

Nominate a Post-Secondary Alumni

The goal of this page is to recognize post-secondary alumni achievements to inspire current and future Samson Cree nation students.

If you know a post-secondary alumni who should be featured on our website, write a short explanation about why they should be featured and send it to