Lounsbury returns to university two decades after first commencing post-secondary studies
By Sam Laskaris
Terrance Lounsbury is taking care of some unfinished business.
Lounsbury, a member of Bunibonibee Cree Nation (formerly Oxford House First Nation) in Manitoba, began his university studies 20 years ago.
After just one semester of taking some business courses, however, at the University College of the North, Lounsbury returned to his First Nation.
“We had a family business and my dad asked me to help run the business for a while,” Lounsbury said.
With his father’s health in decline, Lounsbury ended up handling a bulk of the work at the general store in his First Nation, a fly-in only community, for 15 years before selling the business.
In recent years Lounsbury worked at a couple of different jobs for the Manitoba city of Thompson. He was a senior finance clerk for a few years. And then he was a by-law officer for a couple more years.
Lounsbury, who is now married and a father of three, has decided to return to school. He’s once again a first-year business management student at the University College of the North.
“It was a perfect time to go back,” he said.
Though he had returned to his First Nation a couple of decades earlier to help with the family business, Lounsbury said he did regret leaving his post-secondary schooling behind.
“It kind of hit me a couple of years later,” he said. “I really wish I had my degree.”
Better late than never, however, is the approach he’s taking now. Plus, he gets to be a student at the same time as his two youngest children, aged 11 and 15.
“It’s been interesting,” said Lounsbury, who also has a 22-year-old son. “We all get up for school together.”
Lounsbury added his children are ribbing him a bit about his educational pursuits.
“They’ve been bugging me because I’ve been getting some pretty high marks lately,” he said.
Besides getting some good grades, Lounsbury can also take pride in the fact he is one of eight recipients this year of the Indigenous Scholarship Program.
A total of $44,000 in funding was available through the program this year. Lounsbury was one of two individuals who received $10,000 each.
“It meant absolutely everything to me,” Lounsbury said of his scholarship. “With the inflation going on in the world today, bills were stacking up. It definitely came in handy and I didn’t have to worry about bills. It brought a tear to my eye.”
Lounsbury added a portion of the funding he received will help cover some of the expenses his wife and himself will incur this summer. They will travel to Nova Scotia in July to watch their two youngest children represent Manitoba in track and field events at the North American Indigenous Games.
As for the Indigenous Scholarship Program, delivered by Indspire, it is a partnership between the CIBC and the National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation (NIEEF).
NIEEF is Cando’s charitable organization which provides scholarships, training and research funding to students involved in Indigenous community economic development.