In our Portraits of MacEwan series, students, faculty, staff and alumni share their personal stories ranging from the incredibly sad to profoundly hopeful.
We’re so grateful to the many people who tackled difficult topics, celebrated with us and inspired us this year. You can read all of their stories on MacEwan.ca and the university’s Facebook page. Here are the five our readers connected with the most.
“I’m still learning, but now I know that I’m not one spirit, but two. I’m fire and ice. And I use both of those energies to push through the adversity that comes with being an Indigenous person and a sexual minority in today’s world.
To me, being Two Spirit isn't as simple as an identity marker or a lifestyle. It's who I am, and I am at home in my Two Spirit body.”
– Kairyn, Chair of Education and Outreach with the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society and participant in MacEwan University’s Pride Week Human Library
“My introduction to the N-word came In Grade 6. I was waiting to go outside during lunch recess when a group of my friends came over and one said, “Hey, you use the N-word, right?” (but he used the actual word). I was silent.
Then he said, “Why wouldn’t you use it? You’re Black. You say the N-word.” There was something wrong with the way he said it. That word didn’t sound casual or even powerful. It was abrasive and uncomfortable. And the friends who were telling me I should use it weren’t Black. But by the end of that conversation, I found myself saying that word too. I hated it.”
– James, Bachelor of Arts, Sociology Honours ’20 used autoethnography as part of his honours thesis. He is also member of the MacEwan University Black History Month organizing committee
“I remember watching a Britney Spears video when I was about 11 and thinking that she looked really skinny. Then I started noticing my hip bones. But it was in high school that I really started engaging in eating disorder behaviours that went on for eight years.
I’m recovered now and I can see clearly all of the things my eating disorder took away from me – the happiness, the fearlessness. And there’s this whole list of wonderful things that have happened since I started to get better. I can see the potential I have. I feel like I have even more control – that I can rationalize and make decisions for myself. That I can be with people again.” – Maureen, Bachelor of Arts, Honours Psychology ’20 and co-director of the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta (EDSNA)
“To all the disabled students out there embarking upon their post-secondary journeys, I want to let you know that there will be frustrations, obstacles and embarrassments. I, too, have cried alone in the hallway, experienced defeat, and felt like there is no one to turn to. You are not alone though.
There are people out there who will listen to you, believe you, and support you. Access barriers are not your fault. You are not a bad person for doing what is right for you, whether that is standing up or backing down. Only you know what it is like to inhabit your body and your life. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’ve got this!”
– Melissa Banks, Bachelor of Arts, English ’20 and Dean’s Medal recipient
“I attended a different university for one year after high school and flunked out. I knew I was struggling and I could feel myself falling behind, but didn’t want to admit that to anyone. Not even to myself. I didn’t want to ask for help because it felt like that would be admitting I didn’t know what was going on.
Seventeen years later, I know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of courage. That’s why my best advice for new students is to be brave. Don't think that a problem you’re having is your problem alone. Be brave and turn to your professors, your classmates and MacEwan’s support services for help when you need them.”
– Christina Hardie, Bachelor of Arts, History, Class of 2020
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.