This week we are shining light on Jessica Madiratta, currently in her second year of a Doctor of Philosophy in Education program with the University of Regina. Jessica recently received the good news that she has been selected as a University of Regina candidate for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships–Doctoral Awards 2021-2022 competition. She will find out in spring if she has been successful in the national competition. For her dissertation, Jessica’s proposed research is a critical participatory action research project which she hopes will improve teaching practices through professional development in culturally responsive pedagogy. “This project challenges educators to build deeper relationships with their students, to bring in authentic learning experiences for students, and to explore social issues happening around student lives,” says Jessica.
Living up to her maiden name “Wesaquate,” which means “sharp as a whistle,” Jessica’s been a non-stop student on campus since 2006, earning her BEd from SUNTEP Regina in 2010, her MEd (C&I) in the Faculty of Education in 2015, followed by a BA in Indigenous Studies from FNUC in 2019. Jessica’s been working as a teacher with Regina Public Schools since 2010. Beginning in 2018, she took on the role of Indigenous Advocate Teacher at Kitchener Community School in Regina.
Jessica’s fondest memories come from her favourite MEd course, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, which she took with Dr. Angelina Weenie (FNUC): “This class showed me the importance of decolonizing and indigenizing my classroom practices and shared the power of culturally relevant and responsive pedagogies. It had a huge influence on my PhD research topic. Someone should take this class if they are looking for ways to engage their diverse student population,” she says.
In Dr. Weenie’s class, Jessica had the opportunity to attend culture camp: “It was completely dedicated to Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and being. I had the chance to learn from many elders, participate in a sweat, and to be on the land,” says Jessica.
Jessica, who grew up in Regina, and has roots with Piapot First Nation, considers the most significant aspect about earning her degree from the Faculty of Education, “is the opportunity to learn in my traditional territory with learnings connected to the Regina area.”
As advice to students, Jessica says, “Connect with other students. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions and learn from the experiences of those that have already started their schooling journey.”