Inspiring Success: NIEEF CIBC - Fredelle Deneyoua

Indigenous scholarship recipient returned to studies mere weeks after childbirth


By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Fredelle DeneyouaFredelle Deneyoua would have had a pretty good excuse had she decided to put her schooling on hold this past year.

Deneyoua, a member of Liidiii Kue First Nation in the Northwest Territories, gave birth to her second child, daughter Haley, this past August.

Fredelle Deneyoua returned to her studies mere weeks after giving birth this past August.

Less than a month later, however, Deneyoua was back in the classroom, for her second year of Business Administration studies at Aurora College, located in the Northwest Territories town of Fort Smith.

Deneyoua ended up completing all of her requirements to earn her diploma from the college in April.

The 32-year-old also received some good news midway through her academic year as she found out she was one of seven recipients of the new Indigenous Scholarship Program available to students across the country.

Deneyoua’s portion of the new scholarships was $2,000.

The scholarships, for varying amounts, totaled $44,000 this year and were delivered by Indspire, the national charitable organization which raises funds and delivers programs for Indigenous people in Canada.

Scholarship funds were also available because of a new 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.

Deneyoua believes her commitment to her education, solidified by her decision to return to school mere weeks after giving birth, perhaps contributed to her selection as a scholarship recipient.

“I went right back to it,” she said. “Maybe because I was so dedicated, maybe that’s why I was chosen.”

Deneyoua was grateful to receive the scholarship and funds that came with it.

“It meant a world of difference,” she said. “It meant I was able to pursue my education.”

Besides her daughter, Deneyoua’s family also includes her four-year-old son Memphis and her partner Jonathan, who works in the Ekati Diamond Mines.

Deneyoua had also worked as a miner for five years and that’s where she met Jonathan. But she was forced to give up that job when her son was born as miners are required to be away for stints of two weeks at a time.

Deneyoua added the scholarship money she received was rather welcome and came at an opportune time.

“We were limited on funds,” she said. “We had bills. And some days were hard. Getting the scholarship meant I could be a little more financially secure.”

Deneyoua had worked with the territorial government as part of a summer student program in 2018.

Ideally, she would have liked to land another government position now that she has earned her college diploma.

But during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been the best time to be looking for a new job.

“Nobody is really hiring around here right now,” Deneyoua said in mid-May. “So I am being a mom and staying home.”

But she is also trying to plan for her future.

“I might open up a business of some sort,” she said.

And if that doesn’t pan out, Deneyoua said she would consider another return to school. If she follows through with that decision it would necessitate moving as she has contemplated seeking a Business degree from the University of Alberta or the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.