Indigenous student alliance sees change

Building a bridge between cultures

SAITSA’s Indigenous Student Alliance (SISA) has had a change in executives, but is still striving to accomplish good things this year.

SISA’s main objective is first and foremost to offer “a welcoming and familiar cultural networking resource for SAIT’s First Nation, Métis and Inuit students,” said Dylan Turner, the co-chief of SISA and a fourth year SAIT student in bachelor of business administration, majoring in accounting.

Turner took over as co-chief after both the co-chief and chief had to resign from SISA due to personal issues at the start of this semester.

Usually, there are elections done to determine who fills each position, but  circumstances required immediate action.

“The committee felt that there was not enough time left in the year to organize a proper by-election to replace the leadership roles and so we reorganized the current board and voted to elect our current Chief, Clayton Heck.”

Turner himself was asked to step in as co-chief to help guide Heck as he had very little time to learn the ropes.

“More than that though, we also try and act as a cultural bridge between the indigenous and non-indigenous students,” Turner said.

SISA membership is open to anyone at SAIT including non-indigenous students. The cultural events that are held at Chinook Lodge, which is located inside the Senator Burns building, are also open to the public.

SISA first began under a different name, originally known as Chinook Lodge Aboriginal Students Alliance, however, stakeholders and Elders in the indigenous community found the word Aboriginal to be offensive so the name was changed, Turner explained.

Eventually, SAITSA devised rules and regulations for clubs at SAIT, so SISA had to change in order to adhere to these.

SAITSA’s rules for clubs are that they must be student driven and volunteer run and operate on a non-profit basis.  Before this, SISA had partnered directly with Chinook Lodge. 

“As of today, we are still in a building phase as we attempt to build student interest in our club,” Turner said.

Currently, SISA is in collaboration with the Lodge to work on several upcoming events. First in line is the career networking events for indigenous students.

“We are also looking at hosting some cultural events during indigenous Awareness Week at SAIT.”

Indigenous Awareness Week at SAIT will run from March 13 – 17.

The current executive committee is as follows: Chief Clayton Heck, Co-Chief Dylan Turner, activities executive Angel Gamble; and chief secretary Kayla DrunkenChief.

Students can email to sign up for the mailing list for SISA.

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