Inspiring Success: NIEEF CIBC - Britney Matheson

Matheson hoping for a return to classes this fall


By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Britney Matheson NIEEFLike countless others, Britney Matheson is hoping for a speedy return to normalcy.

Matheson, a member of Mathias Colomb First Nation in Manitoba, is enrolled in the Natural Resources Management and Technology program at the University College of the North.

Britney Matheson is hoping her hands-on course will continue to be offered during the pandemic.

Matheson is hoping she will be able to travel to her second-year classes this September at the school located in The Pas, Man.

But because of the pandemic and COVID-19 concerns, many schools in North America had already announced in the spring that they would be offering online only courses this fall.

“Our instructors are in meetings right now,” Matheson said about her school in mid-May. “They’re trying to see if they can deliver the course online.”

Since Matheson’s program is a hands-on course, this might not be possible, especially since there is a fall field practicum.

“They show us how to collect proper data,” Matheson said. “You have to go to a camp for three and a half weeks. We’re waiting on word to see how that could be done.”

Once COVID-19 started spreading in Canada in March, schools across the country began shutting their doors and moving their classes online.

For Matheson that meant several weeks of online learning to complete her first year. It wasn’t a process she necessarily enjoyed.

“I’m a hands-on learner,” she said. “It’s quite difficult for me to read a textbook and give (all the information) back to them.”

Matheson, however, was quite pleased earlier this year. That’s because she was one of seven winners of the new Indigenous Scholarship Program, delivered by Indspire, the national charitable organization which raises funds and delivers programs for Indigenous people in Canada.

Funding for the scholarships - $44,000 this year – was also available because of a partnership between the CIBC and the National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation (NIEEF), the charitable organization of Cando, which promotes economic development in Indigenous communities through Canada.

Matheson’s scholarship was worth $5,000.

“The extra funds from that scholarship helped me,” said Matheson, who travels one hour each way from her community of Cranberry Portage to her school in The Pas.

Though it is a two-year program, students are offered the opportunity to complete it over the course of four years. Matheson is planning to finish all of the program requirements in three years.

“It’s a very hard course,” she said. “We have very heavy courses.”

Matheson said she began the program with about two dozen others. By the end of the first year, just 14 of those students were still around.

Matheson said she was intrigued by her current program and it was suggested to her by her mother, who works as a career co-ordinator.

“I’ve always wanted to work out in nature or out in the field,” said Matheson, who aspires to be a wildlife technician.
Should she successfully complete her current program, Matheson is already eyeing some further education.

If she has a decent GPA, she said she would consider applying for the Environmental Science program at the University of Manitoba. Completing a two-year program would allow her to earn a university degree.

“I’m also looking at a career in water resources and oceans and fisheries,” she said.