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Rayne Favel with her husband and three children. (Photo: Submitted)

An aspiring Indigenous teacher is carrying on her culture and language, thanks to donor support

Rayne Favel had a childhood dream of becoming a nurse. However, she soon realized that her calling is to carry on her Cree culture and language.

Favel has always been connected to her Indigenous roots, but when she was expecting her first child, she recognized the importance of keeping their language and traditions alive for younger generations. Her desire to preserve the Cree culture helped her make the decision to enroll in the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), focusing on Cree and Indigenous studies for elementary and middle year students.

“It is vital to keep my traditions and culture alive. I feel that there has been a disconnect with speaking our language and I think it is very important that we're able to speak it,” said Favel. “I’m hopeful that I can bring it back by empowering the future Indigenous generations, starting with children and young adults,” said Favel.

After only her second year of studies, Favel has already experienced interacting with teachers and students in a classroom setting. She also had the opportunity to connect with the land emotionally and physically through cultural activities such as plucking ducks, smoking meat and setting hunting nets. The academic and experiential knowledge she has gained so far in the program has been valuable to her path towards becoming a Cree language teacher. However, as a student, wife, and now a mother to three children, balancing student responsibilities is challenging.

Thanks to being awarded the Stephanson Cooke Indigenous Student Award in Education, Favel has remained motivated in her pursuit of higher education.

“I’ve never applied for scholarships in the past but when I found out about this scholarship dedicated to Indigenous students, I felt inspired to apply,” said Favel. “When I found out I received the award, I was very happy. It encouraged me to do well in my courses and carry on the Cree culture.”

Receiving the award has also helped Favel financially while living and studying in a Northern Saskatchewan rural community. She was able to set aside funds for her upcoming year of studies and afford the expenses that come along with post-secondary education. “Being a student can be stressful at times and receiving scholarship support like this can make a difference.”

Through the generous donation of Ms. Agnes Cooke, the Stephanson Cooke Indigenous Student Award recognizes Indigenous students in the Bachelor of Education program who demonstrate leadership qualities and plan to teach in Indigenous communities.

Favel demonstrates this leadership as an active volunteer in her community. She is the youth representative for the Métis Nation Local 42 in her hometown, Cumberland House, where she works with the community’s regional director to host activities for the youth. During her first year of studies, Favel also coordinated a small fashion show with her class that showcased hand-made Indigenous pieces such as beadings and buckskins.  

Favel is thankful for donors who support USask students like her in their education. She believes that these gifts not only financially help students who may be struggling to meet required everyday needs but also gives a boost in confidence in their studies.

As she continues to embark her teaching journey next fall, Favel is excited to deepen her knowledge and shape the future of Cree culture and language. “Five years from now, I hope to be an inspiring Cree teacher and knowledge keeper. I hope to empower the youth and pass down our culture and traditions to my children and other children who cross my path.”
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