One spring graduate hopes a business degree will help her make a difference in the lives of Indigenous Peoples across Canada.
Abigail Jeddore of Conne River is a member of the Mi’kmaq First Nation. She graduates this spring with a bachelor of business administration degree and will attend law school at Ryerson University in the fall.
“I believe having a good understanding of business will help enhance my legal profession as there is a natural complement between business and law,” she said about her academic path.
“There is so much inequality that must be addressed among Indigenous Peoples, and that is why I know I can do my part in the legal profession.”
Ms. Jeddore became interested in law at age 11 when she took part in a program called Lunch with a Judge that exposed her to the legal profession in action.
She also participated in Encounters with Canada in high school, a national program that connects Canadian youth and exposes them to potential opportunities in law and justice.
“I aspire to continue to engage in sharing these traditional practices and ceremonies as a student and working legal professional.”
She later received the Johnson Horizon Program Award, which allowed her to visit Memorial as a high school student. The experience cemented her decision where to apply for post-secondary education.
“After that weekend, I was sure I wanted to attend Memorial University. Not only did I feel like I already belonged there, but I was also more familiar with the campus and the overall environment at the university.”
‘Positivity and connectivity’
Ms. Jeddore says her time at Memorial and in St. John’s allowed her to connect with her Indigenous heritage through the Indigenous Student Resource Centre and by volunteering with First Light, a non-profit organization in St. John’s that provides programming and services for Indigenous people.
There, she learned about cultural rituals such as smudging and sunrise ceremonies, which she continues to use as personal practices.
“I aspire to continue to share these traditional practices and ceremonies as a student and working legal professional as it promotes more positivity and connectivity while lessening the inevitability of racism that could arise,” she said.
Ms. Jeddore says she has seen some of the inequalities that exist among Indigenous populations, including a lack of awareness about Indigenous history and challenges that still persist.
Following a class presentation about residential schools, for example, she was shocked at how many of her peers were unaware of the residential school system in Canada and the resulting trauma that still affects Indigenous people and communities.
“What I hope to achieve as a lawyer is to make a difference to Indigenous peoples and other minority groups,” she said.
“It’s not something that can be done overnight and the process is slow – very long – and requires those who are dedicated. The process requires someone like me.”