O’Laney now pursuing economics degree after transferring universities
By Sam Laskaris
His post-secondary career has taken various twists and turns.
But Vincent O’Laney, a 28-year-old member of Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, is forging ahead with plans to graduate with his university degree by April of 2024.
O’Laney had begun his post-secondary schooling in 2018 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
After a year and a half at the school, taking business administration classes, he moved to Brandon in part to be closer to his partner.
A lot has changed in his life since then. O’Laney is now a father of two - son Cameron is four and daughter Callie turns two in April.
And he’s now a third-year economics student at Brandon University.
O’Laney said he much prefers Brandon University since it is a smaller school. Instead of having about 120 students like he had at some of his University of Manitoba classes, he is one of six students in an economics course. And there are about 20 students in each of his other classes.
“You can hear better and if you have a question, you don’t feel bad stopping the instructor,” O’Laney said of his current classes.
O’Laney is also thrilled he is one of eight recipients this year of the Indigenous Scholarship Program, delivered by Indspire.
The program, which offered $44,000 in funding this year, is a partnership between the CIBC and the National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation (NIEEF), Cando’s charitable organization, which provides scholarships, training and research funding to students involved in Indigenous community economic development.
Scholarship recipients received either $2,000, $5,000 or $10,000 in funding. O’Laney was one of the two $2,000 scholarship winners.
“I used it to pay most of my credit card off,” he said. “And I took my family out. We went to a hotel with a swimming pool.”
O’Laney added receiving any type of scholarship involving cash is welcome.
“Everybody is struggling financially these days,” he said. “It makes you feel good and that you’re doing something right.”
Besides his national scholarship, O’Laney is also receiving a bit of other financial support.
“Our First Nation pays for us to go to school,” he said, adding Sagkeeng provides him with $1,000 every two weeks to help cover some of his expenses.
O’Laney is not quite sure how he will put his economics degree to good use upon graduation.
“I have a friend who is working for the Treaty One Development Corporation who is helping to build urban reserves in Winnipeg,” he said. “I’m hoping to do something along those lines, maybe even in my community.”
Though he is hoping to work for a bit after finishing off his current degree, O’Laney believes there’s a good chance he will return to school one day.
“I also have a dream of being a teacher,” he said, adding he just might follow in the footsteps of his mother, who has been a social studies teacher for about three decades at a school in his First Nation.