Category: Spotlights

Student Spotlight | Kamogelo Amanda Matebekwane

In December, our Faculty received news that six of our graduate students have been chosen for the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships/Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) Competition. We saw this news as an opportunity to highlight some of our extraordinary graduate students and their research.

Our spotlight today is shining on PhD student Kamogelo Amanda Matebekwane, one of the six competitors. Amanda currently works as a research assistant in the Faculty’s research unit (

Born and raised in beautiful Botswana, in the southern part of Africa, Amanda carries with her the Botswana values of humility, kindness, compassion, unity, and selflessness. Amanda says, “I bring these values to Canada to learn and appreciate the co-existence of human and non-human beings on treaty lands.”

A passion for working with young children initially led Amanda to do her B.Ed.(’06) in Early Childhood Education (ECE) at the University of Botswana. This same passion brought her back to the University of Botswana to do her M.Ed.(’15). Amanda’s experience while working in Botswana, inspecting early childhood education centres for the local government, had opened her eyes to the gaps and challenges that existed in the well-being and education of children. For her master’s research, then, she focused her study on the well-being of orphans and vulnerable children and the extent to which support services met their basic and educational needs. Her findings confirmed that indeed, there was a significant gap between what children needed and what children were offered by both government and guardians. Amanda presented her master’s paper, “Determining Latent Factor Structure of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Wellbeing Tool (OWT) Based on Botswana Sample,”  at the 88th Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association in Chicago. After completing her master’s, Amanda decided to immigrate to Canada to join her husband and begin their life journey together.

On a cold night in early March 2017, Amanda arrived in Regina and experienced snow and subzero temperatures for the first time. She says, “The YQR airport doors opened to embrace me with a gulp of freezing air. I turned back and looked at my husband and said, ‘Oh no! I’m going back home!’ He laughed and said, ‘Welcome to Canada!'”

When she first arrived in Canada, Amanda had no interest in returning to university for her PhD. She had struggled financially with tuition and books attending the University of Botswana. However, when she learned about student loan opportunities in Canada, her passion for continuing her studies was rekindled. She says, “I took some time and searched for programs and institutions that offered outstanding programs at a reasonable price. The University of Regina stood out because of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The other thing that caught my attention with U of R was the fact that it was offering relevant programs that address current issues affecting people living in Regina. Such programs include anti-oppressive education, anti-racism education as well as Indigeneity and decolonizing education. The support offered at the Faculty of Education has been absolutely amazing! The scholarships offered every term always motivate and inspire me to do my best.”

For her PhD research, Amanda is exploring the experiences of Black immigrant children, their families, and teachers within the Regina elementary public school system in the context of anti-Black racism education. She says, “I am so keen to engage young children in early childhood education settings to understand their lived experiences and at the same time magnify their voices.” Rather than considering children subjects in the research process, Amanda says, “I will be co-researching with them to understand how the education system can refuse the normativity and Eurocentric worldviews and integrate the children’s values and beliefs that they bring from their home countries. I strongly believe that in an increasingly multicultural society, we need to affirm racialized identities, find joy in human diversity, and be confident, collaborative, and caring in standing up for social justice.” Amanda’s research is supervised by Dr. Emily Ashton. Her committee members are Dr. Christine Massing, Dr. Donna Swapp, and Dr. Florence Luhanga (Faculty of Nursing).

Amanda recently published a personal essay:

Matebekwane, K. A. (2022). Counter-storytelling: A form of resistance and tool to reimagine more inclusive early childhood education spaces. in education, 28(1b), 116 – 125.



Student Spotlight | Shannon Fayant

In December, our Faculty received news that six of our graduate students have been chosen for the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships/Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) Competition. Our spotlight today is shining on PhD student Shannon Fayant (M.Ed.’06; B.Ed.’96, SUNTEP-Regina), one of the six competitors.

Shannon is a Métis woman and is currently the principal at F. W. Johnson Collegiate in Regina.

With 17 years of experience in administration with Regina Public Schools and a 26-year career in education, Shannon brings a wealth of knowledge and experiences to her research. A highlight for Shannon in her career journey was at Scott Collegiate, where she was principal for 5 years: “I was privileged to work on the community build of the mâmawêyatitân centre.”  The mâmawêyatitân centre is a shared-use facility that houses multiple community partners, thus named “mâmawêyatitân,” which is Cree for “let’s all be together.”

Another meaningful experience was co-producing and co-hosting “The Four” through Access Communications with co-hosts Dr. Shauneen Pete, Bevann Fox, and Robyn Morin.

In the fall 2020, Shannon decided to return to the University of Regina for her PhD. Her research study is focused on theorizing a Métis educational leadership model with Métis women’s voices at the heart of the research, entitled Educational Leadership Stories of Métis Iskwêwak (Women). Shannon says, “I began my journey with the intent to contribute to theorizing of Indigenous Educational leadership through the perspective of an Indigenous Iskwêw leader. I quickly realized there was very little literature that gave Indigenous women an opportunity to share their experiences in education and the public education experience in leadership. Therefore, I decided to embrace the journey of providing Métis women the opportunity to share their experiences as leaders in education, to contribute to Métis leadership and this new knowledge, to assist in the leadership development of leading within reconciliation times.”

Dr. Michael Cappello is supervising Shannon’s research and her committee members are Dr. Melanie Brice, Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson and Dr. Sherry Farrell-Racette.

Student Spotlight | Tammy Ratt

In December, our Faculty received news that six of our graduate students have been chosen for the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships/Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) Competition. Our spotlight today is shining on PhD student Tammy Ratt, one of the six competitors.

Tammy is currently a lecturer with the language department at First Nations University of Canada.

Since she was young, Tammy wanted to get her PhD. “I wanted to write self-help books…I don’t know why.” In pursuit of her dream, Tammy completed her B.Ed. degree (with a major in Indigenous Studies and minor in Cree) at First Nations University of Canada in 2007.  She completed her first master’s in education (curriculum and instruction) from the University of Regina in 2016 but did the course-work route. She then registered in a Master’s in Indigenous Language Education (MILED, thesis-route) in 2020 at the First Nations University of Canada.  “But then,” Tammy says, “I was so inspired by the MILED, I applied for a Phd in Education at the University of Regina.” Tammy will finish her course work this term and will start her comprehensive exams in the spring. Tammy jokes saying, “This University can’t get rid of me.”

Tammy’s doctoral research, supervised by Dr. Andrea Sterzuk, examines Indigenous language education using art as a method of transmission. Tammy says, “I chose my research topic because learning my language has been an uplifting journey. All these years and I am still finding myself. Learning my language makes me feel better about myself.” Tammy hopes that Indigenous youth will also have the opportunity to feel this way.  She hopes to create language learning opportunities through the use of Indigenous art. “I love Indigenous art. It is soothing and healing. I think this research is the perfect way to do something challenging: learning language through art,” says Tammy.

Tammy’s published articles include the following:

Ratt, T., Daniels, B., Stevenson, R., & Sterzuk, A. (in press). “When I Chose to Become a Teacher, I was Agreeing to Perpetuating Colonialism”: Experiences of Colonialism in Saskatchewan Educational Systems. In N. Limerick, J. Schissel, M. López Gopar, & V. Huerta (Eds.), Colonialism, Language, and Education Across the Americas . Teachers College Press.

Ratt, T. (2022). Miskasowin asîhk (Finding Oneself on the Land). in education, 27(2b), 37-51.


Student Spotlight – Trudy Keil

In December, our Faculty received news that six of our graduate students have been chosen for the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships/Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) Competition. Our spotlight today is shining on 3rd-year PhD student Trudy Keil (BHK ’98, UBC; BEAD’05, MEd’15, UofR), one of the six competitors.

Trudy has been teaching with Regina Public Schools for 15 years. She currently teaches English as an Additional Language at Campbell Collegiate. Through her teaching experiences Trudy developed “an intense desire to improve teaching and learning conditions in Saskatchewan” which led her to pursuing a doctoral program in education.

“As an EAL teacher, advocating for students has long been an essential part of my job. Amidst education budget cuts and policy decisions that have harmed teachers and students, it was apparent that I needed to expand my advocacy beyond the school walls.” says Trudy.

Further, a successful experience with her master’s thesis, defended in 2015 entitled, “An Action Research Study: EAL and Content Teachers Collaborating to Support All Students at a Secondary School,” strengthened Trudy’s interest in doing more research: “I developed respectful and productive relationships with colleagues, learned a great deal about how to best support all students, and came to realize how much I enjoyed the research process,” says Trudy.

For her PhD dissertation, Trudy is exploring teacher activism within formal professional associations and through grassroots efforts. Inspired by her teaching experiences and teacher activism within and beyond the union, Trudy hopes “to inspire and empower Saskatchewan and Canadian teachers to view themselves as impactful political actors and, at the same time, draw widespread attention to the value of democratic, public education. It is important to conduct research on how teachers challenge dominant discourses because their successes can offer leadership and hope.”

Trudy’s dissertation research is supervised by Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson and committee members Dr. Christine Massing, Dr. Michele Sorensen, and Dr. Andrea Sterzuk. “I am extremely grateful to have such an amazing team of strong, female leaders supporting me in this journey,” says Trudy.

Autumn 2022 issue of Education News is now available

In this issue:

Click image to read online

A message from the Dean… 3
Talking about gender and sexual diversity in education… 4
Physical education: 2SLGBTQ+ inclusionary or exclusionary? … 22
Alumni award recipient… 25
Student’s research finds gap in gender inclusivity in Dove Confident Me program… 26
Welcoming our new Elder-in-Residence, May Desnomie… 29
With Gratitude to Elder Alma Poitras… 32
A lifelong search for a good teacher… 33
Hard work and a little luck… 36
Retirement Celebrations… 40
Successful defence… 41
New faculty and staff… 42
New and interim positions… 44
Funding and awards… 46
Spring Convocation Prizes… 48
Published research… 49

Grad student chosen as Vanier candidate

Heather Carter, Vanier candidate. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

Congratulations to Heather Carter, who has been chosen as one of the University of Regina’s candidates for Vanier’s Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral Awards 2022-23 competition.

Heather (B.Ed.’08 SUNTEP-PA, M.Ed.’19 UofR) is a Métis woman from Prince Albert, SK, and is now living and working on Treaty 4 territory, the territories of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda, and the homeland of the Métis/Michif Nation. Before moving to Regina, Heather worked as a middle years teacher for 8 years and then in adult education at Dumont Technical Institute for 2 years. She also earned her M.Ed. (C&I with a focus on Indigenous Leadership and Pedagogy) in our community-based master’s of education program offered in partnership with Gabriel Dumont Institute in Prince Albert.
Currently, Heather works as an Indigenous Student Success Facilitator and runs the nitôncipâmin omâ Student Success Program at the University of Regina. About her work, Heather says, “Through this first-year program, I support a cohort of Indigenous undergraduate students as they transition to university and provide mentorship as they move into the second year of their degree. By working in partnership with my colleagues in the ta-tawâw Student Centre, I am proud to lead a program that provides a culturally focused, community-centered approach to post-secondary education.”
While Heather is working toward a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership, she says, “My research focus is anti-oppressive leadership in higher education, and understanding the impact that ubiquitous racism and oppression has on the identity of Indigenous and racialized learners in post-secondary institutions.”

Spotlight on new Elder-in-Residence May Desnomie

Elder-in-residence, May Desnomie

Elder May Desnomie, a Woodland Cree from Peter Ballantyne First Nation, was born and raised in the northern Saskatchewan hamlet of Sandy Bay. Her family on both of her mom’s and dad’s sides and grandparents going back generations lived off the land, hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering. Before she was taken to the Catholic-run Guy Hill Indian Residential School in The Pas, Manitoba at the young age of 6, May also lived off the land: “I was 100% immersed in my language and culture until I was taken away to residential school in 1956.”

If being far away from home at such a young age wasn’t enough hardship, residential school was made harder because of the parental visitation policies: “Parents weren’t allowed to visit in residential school. They had a room they called a parlor next to the principal’s office. The parents would come to visit there, and they were only allowed one hour,” says May.

Though attending residential school didn’t destroy May’s Catholic faith, it did affect the faith of some members of her family. “There are four of us that went to residential schools and two will not have anything to do with the church. I personally didn’t suffer any physical or sexual abuse.”

Still, May recognizes the damage done by the policies of residential schools, She says, “I have nothing good to say about residential schools. They destroyed our cultures, our languages, our families. For myself, I met many good people along my journey. Although I am not going to say anything nice about residential schools, I will say there were nice people. However, the policies were destructive: the residential school was trying to destroy our way of life. That is still their goal: They still want to assimilate us, to fit us into the Canadian multicultural dream, but they can’t forget that we were the first people on this land.”

May moved to Wilcox to attend high school at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame boarding school after 9 years as a student at Guy Hill. She says, “I was sent there as part of the integration policy. My aunt was a teacher/nun at the elementary school there, and I could see her because she was a supervisor.” The change in landscape from her northern roots was a big change for May, “It was a culture shock for me, being from northern Saskatchewan with the rocks and the forest. Honestly, Wilcox has the flattest land in Saskatchewan, I swear. And we didn’t have the water that we had up north. When I was a child, you could drink water right from the lakes up north. We drank the water from the dugout at Wilcox and it was bad.”

After being in an institution for 11 years of her life, May decided to move to Saskatoon to take her Grade 12 from E. D. Feehan Catholic High School. “I had to find some freedom. I don’t know why, but I ended up in Saskatoon. Indian Affairs put us in boarding homes.”

May decided to become a teacher after graduating high school because she wanted to help change the narrative of Indigenous people in Canadian society. She says, “When I was in residential school, I did not learn my Indigenous history, like the history of Indian people. We were told we were savages and pagans and I didn’t think that was right. I was hoping I could change that narrative in the classroom to some degree.” After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Education, May and her husband Gerry Desnomie returned to the North, moving to Red Earth First Nation where she taught Grade 1 students.

Changing the narrative has been the work of May’s entire career in education: “It’s coming along slowly, but now they teach treaties in the classroom, and now they have native studies in high school, but they still need to change the curriculum to have more of the Indigenous perspective in there.” To help with curriculum change, May is sitting with an elder’s group that is advising the provincial government on curriculum.

May also has a heart for reparation work. She belongs to three groups dedicated to this work: the Intercultural Grandmothers Uniting (IGU), which is made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women working toward building bridges of understanding, respect, trust and friendship; the Aboriginal Non Aboriginal Relations Community (ANARC); and a TRC committee, with the Catholic Church. “They are hoping to repair the wrongs done by the church to Indigenous people, so that is why I joined that group.”

In her role as Elder-in-Residence with the Faculty of Education, May hopes to continue her work of changing the narrative about Indigenous people. She says, “I hope I can tell the wider society about Indigenous people, that we are part of society and we feel the way they do: We have our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our dreams. I want them to know about our history, our Indigenous history. Many of them wonder about and have so many stereotypes about Indigenous people, that ‘they’re lazy, they don’t want to work, or they are alcoholics,’ and those are the ones you see. The majority of us are okay, we are successful. This is what I want to tell the general public. The government has made us invisible in the past, through residential schools and restricting us from leaving our reserves, and they told the wrong story about us.”

Being made invisible damages Indigenous people; May says, “They don’t know the damage they are doing to our person; it makes it so you’re not proud of yourself as an Indigenous person. I always tell my students to be proud of who you are; I know you can’t be successful until you are proud of who you are. Otherwise you are always trying to hide who you are.”

“I want to tell the right story. But not just me, I will have a hard time trying to educate society. Canadians will have to go out and educate themselves, read books, and find about our history and they will know who we are and can be our allies, and help us move forward and walk with us.”

Elder May Desnomie replaces the former Elder-in-Residence, Elder Alma Poitras, who retired recently.








Faculty Spotlight | Dr. Marc Spooner, Interim Director of CERCD

As a final faculty spotlight for the term, we are shining light on Dr. Marc Spooner, a full professor with the Faculty of Education, who has recently taken on the role of interim director of CERCD (, the Faculty of Education’s research unit. He works with both the educational psychology and education curriculum and instruction areas, specializing in qualitative and participatory action research. A multiple winner of the Prairie Dog’s Best of Regina Poll for Best U of R Professor, Spooner says that, “teaching, and hopefully modelling, critical and creative thinking in the service of democratic consciousness, participation, and engagement” are what he is passionate about in his work.
Spooner is well-known in the community for his advocacy for those who suffer from homelessness and poverty. He takes an active interest in participatory democracy and activism. More recent interests include academic freedom, audit culture, social justice and the effects of neoliberalization and corporatization on higher education. He, with Dr. James McNinch, recently co-edited the award-winning book, Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education, as part of an ongoing discussion regarding the purpose of higher education in a climate of neoliberalism.
With the “aspirational hope of nudging the arc of history towards justice,” Spooner is busy planning the second symposium, which will facilitate the continued exploration of roles, challenges, conflicting tensions, and promising re-imaginings to address the question of the university’s purpose in an age of performance-based funding and audit culture. The symposium boasts an impressive line-up of speakers: Have a look and plan to attend:
As advice to students, when choosing their academic program and courses, Spooner says, “Students should follow their interests, passions and curiosity.” Further, Spooner says, “Learn from one another, support each other, play, study, practice, and keep asking questions.”

Faculty Spotlight | Stephen Davis, Intérim coordinateur Maîtrise en éducation française and professeur adjoint

Aujourd’hui, nous mettons en vedette Stephen Davis, professeur adjoint et étudiant doctoral dans la Faculté d’éducation à l’Université de Regina. Stephen enseigne au Baccalauréat en éducation française (le Bac) et contribue à la formation des enseignant.e.s de l’immersion française et des programmes francophones en Saskatchewan. D’ailleurs, Stephen a accepté de servir comme coordinateur par intérim de la Maîtrise en éducation française.

Stephen est passionné de l’apprentissage des langues, de l’enseignement plurilingue et de l’éducation inclusive et équitable. Il souligne l’importance de l’enseignement du français en situation linguistique minoritaire à travers les prairies canadiennes, ainsi que la valeur du plurilinguisme et de toutes langues minoritaires en Saskatchewan. Aux yeux de Stephen, les moments les plus inspirants de l’enseignement sont quand les étudiant.e.s partagent leurs connaissances culturelles et leurs répertoires linguistiques diversifiées pour apprendre ensemble.

Quant à sa recherche, Stephen s’intéresse à plusieurs sujets en éducation, y compris l’immersion française, l’éducation équitable et inclusive, l’enseignement plurilingue, la politique linguistique et l’éducation des élèves nouveaux-arrivants au Canada. Stephen a reçu une bourse doctorale du Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines (CRSH) pour explorer les expériences des élèves réfugiés et les perspectives des enseignant.e.s en immersion française à travers les prairies canadiennes. Les élèves réfugiés sont souvent exclus de l’immersion, et Stephen s’intéresse à apprendre comment adapter ces programmes pour mieux inclure et soutenir tous les élèves nouveaux-arrivants. Stephen est également impliqué dans d’autres initiatives langagières en Saskatchewan, incluant un projet pilote avec Saskatoon Open Door Society pour enseigner l’anglais comme langue additionelle aux élèves réfugiés, ainsi qu’un camp d’immersion michif. Dans son enseignement, dans sa recherche et dans son service communautaire, Stephen cherche à promouvoir la pédagogie plurilingue et l’éducation équitable et inclusive au Canada.

Si Stephen avait des conseils à offrir aux étudiant.e.s du Bac, il les encouragerait à saisir l’occasion de collaborer avec des camarades de classe provenant des communautés culturelles et linguistiques diversifiées. Les étudiant.e.s du Bac viennent de plusieurs pays autour du monde et ont tellement d’expériences valables à contribuer à l’éducation en Saskatchewan. Stephen inviterait tous les étudiant.e.s à partager leurs cultures, leurs langues, leurs perspectives et leurs expériences vécues pour contribuer à une éducation interculturelle et transformative.

Dans son temps libre, Stephen aime faire du vélo, faire du ski de fond et jouer au basketball. Il joue également du saxophone dans un groupe de jazz à l’Université de Regina. Stephen adore surtout voyager, faire du camping et passer du temps avec sa femme et leur chien.


Faculty Spotlight | Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, New Assistant Professor – Physical Education and Outdoor/Land-Based Education

Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, Assistant Professor in Physical Education and Outdoor/Land-Based Education. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

September spotlights continue with today’s spotlight on Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, our new Assistant Professor in Physical Education and Outdoor/Land-Based Education. As a newbie to Saskatchewan, Jennifer has been “learning more about the prairie ecology through walking and watching the sky.” Taking (and enjoying) a Cree language course is also a part of her orientation to living in Saskatchewan.

These Saskatchewan activities reflect Jennifer’s research and educational interests: “My focus is in outdoor and land-based practices with commitments also to Treaty Education. Particularly, in my classes, I endeavour to expand perceptions of wellness so that teaching and learning include the complex ecologies that we are enmeshed in as human beings.”

Ongoing goals for Jennifer include understanding her “role in conversations of truth and reconciliation, and collaborating with others to generate new knowledge and stories that approach place, teaching, learning, relations, wellness, and curriculum differently.” This work is important, says Jennifer, “to increase consideration, discussion, and education to help renew co-existence and restore right relations on shared land.”

As a Canadian of settler descent, Jennifer says, “I endeavour to take seriously guidance from Indigenous mentors who encourage me to proceed in ways that respect treaty wisdom: good relations, peaceful co-existence, and honouring the gifts. Therefore, my research interests are aimed at recognizing and unlearning the ongoing presences of colonialism and Enlightenment-based modes of knowledge and knowing and prioritizes practices to can expand and renew relationships.”

The transformative potential of educational experiences to renew and enhance relationships is the reason behind Jennifer’s passion for education. “As an educator, I am constantly learning to have more trust in the possibilities inherent in kinetic forms of learning, such that the objectives of experiences cannot be fully known in advance and require us to pay attention to the world. In this way, I believe educators and learners can learn about themselves, the stories they are a part of, to understand their relationships more deeply and even differently. Once I starting inquiring into processing of wayfinding with students, all sorts of creative expressions emerged. I am excited by the diversity of knowledge that comes into view when room is created for it and the interconnections that can be drawn through sharing stories. This form of learning gives me hope for a more sustainable and equitable future.”

A highlight in Jennifer’s research was successfully defending her doctoral dissertation in the summer of 2022. In her doctoral research, Jennifer says, “I journeyed alongside secondary school students involved in multi-day wilderness expeditions. I was interested in how students experienced and understood place-specific lifeforms. Simultaneously, as their guide, I wanted to humbly live out holistic relational teachings kindled through visits with nêyihaw Elder Bob Cardinal. Bringing these threads into dialogue helped me to generate insights toward a kinetic process of narrative mapping and to develop principles for wayfinding toward more ethical relationships.” Jennifer is excited to build on this research, inquiring into “how these principles might live in other settings and across disciplines to enliven place-specific ecologies as the living curriculum and to support educators in guiding all students towards life-sustaining relations in everyday contexts.”

Students should consider the Health, Outdoor, and Physical Education (HOPE) course of study “to develop the skills to not only design and facilitate a range of physical activities, but also to understand and enact the holistic potentials of education more broadly and to explore processes of learning that include the life of places we live with,” says Jennifer.

As advice to students, Jennifer says, “It is important to surround yourself by positive people who will push you to be your best. At the same time, seek out others who think differently than you and practice listening to their experiences in the world. Build routines and habits that will allow you to spend time outdoors as much as possible.”