“At the University of Saskatchewan (USask), I felt like I was able to practice as an artist and as a learner and as a teacher. All in the same space. That was huge for me.”
Zoey Roy (BEd’17, MPP’21) is a proud is a Nehithaw-Dené and Michif citizen of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in northern Saskatchewan. She first attended USask as an undergraduate student in the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP), obtaining her Bachelor of Education degree.
“I wanted to go to the university because I wanted to get to know different cultures and different ways of teaching and learning. I wanted to be involved in something greater than myself,” said Roy.
Roy later obtained her Master of Public Policy degree from Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. During her studies, she took part in the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) program trip to a field school in Uganda. On the trip she was involved in the curation of Dr. Irena Creed’s (PhD) exhibit of poetry and photography titled Stories of Love and Kinship. From December 2021 – February 2022, Roy was the Indigenous storyteller-in-residence at the University of Saskatchewan. Her time and experiences at USask made a lasting impact on her life.
Roy shared, “On my graduation day I remember the president, Peter Stoicheff, said that excellence is a transferrable skill. And I know he is a musician as well. And it brings up the Mark Twain quote, ‘Don't let school get in the way of your education.’ With those two quotes, that was all the permission I needed to pursue entrepreneurship.”
Outside of her academic successes, Roy has made a name for herself as a poet, rap artist, author, mentor and educator. Alongside her partner, Omar “Obeatz” Ballantyne, she has a production studio where they have produced multiple of her spoken word poetry and rap albums, including her album Zoetry.
Roy has branded herself as an artist, activator and auntie. She embraces her artistry through her poetry and music. Having once labelled herself as an activist, she now refers to herself as an activator.
“I used to consider myself an activist, but I cannot control what other people do. I can only inspire change. I can help blow wind under people's wings, but I can't make them fly and so that's why I call myself an activator.”
Roy first became an aunt when she was 12 years old when her sibling had her niece. Now Roy embraces her role of auntie for more than her family, but also for everyone she inspires.
Zoey Roy now lives in Ontario and is working toward her PhD in education at York University. She continues to make music with her partner and has performed across the world.
In Saskatchewan, she has partnerships with both the Regina Symphony Orchestra and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO).
In Regina, she aided in the creation of an online education tool for schools called Enough is Enough. In the upcoming months, the SSO will be performing some of Roy’s pieces.
It’s the People of USask who enable us to be what the world needs.