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Strengthening her voice through education

Chérie Baker one of 12 students to earn a Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw Master of Education (MEd) at SFU.
Higher education opens doors, and ears; at least that is the hope for recent Skwxwú7mesh Úxwimixw (Squamish Nation) graduate Chérie Baker.

On Oct. 8, Baker was one of 12 students who graduated with a Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw Master of Education (MEd), offered through Community Graduate Programs in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University.

“Earning my master’s degree in Skwxwú7mesh Education will strengthen my voice,” Baker said in an SFU news release. “It will open doors that might allow me to help make a greater impact for our future generations.”

The degree is a two-year program specifically designed for leaders within the Squamish Nation.

Baker was inspired to go into the field of education by the trauma endured by her family due to the government and church-sponsored residential school system.

She believed that her younger family members, including her sons, nieces and nephews, needed a voice to advocate for quality education for Indigenous Peoples.

By exploring the Skwxwú7mesh methods used by her ancestors to teach, Baker researched inclusive education and how a Skwxwú7mesh approach to teaching and Skwxwú7mesh philosophies about knowledge could be incorporated in public education. 

“We're picking up this journey from our ancestors before us,” she said. “This is how it's supposed to be. It's our job to continue to strive for the best that education has to offer our mén’men, our children.”

As the advocacy, support and assessment manager at the Nation, she plans to use her knowledge from the program to support current and future generations as they go to school.

“An ha7lh en skwálwen, an wanáxws ten skwálwen. Chen kwenmentumi kwis nexníẃ. Chen kwenmentumi kwis esém’kwu i chén’chenstway — I have good feelings in my heart and proud of who I am. I am truly grateful for the teachings. I am truly grateful for being blanketed, wrapped in protection and upheld as a Skwxwú7mesh woman throughout this program.”

Find out more about the program here.