Inspiring Success - NIEEF - Jana Sasakamoose

Sasakamoose shares scholarship money with others in need

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Jana SasakamooseJana Sasakamoose

Talk about giving back.

During the past few years Jana Sasakamoose, a Business Administration student at the Regina campus of First Nations University of Canada, has received about a dozen different scholarships.

And each time Sasakamoose, a member of Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, has decided to give a portion of her scholarship money to others.

“It’s a way of giving hope back to the community,” Sasakamoose said. “I’m a single mother myself. I see what other peoples’ struggles are.”

Besides furthering her education, Sasakamoose, 26, is also raising four children. Her sons Rocky and Tony are five and three, respectively. And she also has a one-year-old daughter named Gracie and another daughter, June, who is three months old.

University officials have been supportive of the fact Sasakamoose is also raising a young family during her studies. For instance, as a nursing mother, Sasakamoose was able to bring her infant daughter to an exam.

Sasakamoose’s latest scholarship, worth $2,000, is via the National Indigenous Economic Education Foundation (NIEEF), the charitable organization of Cando, which promotes economic development in Indigenous communities across Canada.

Sasakamoose gave away $400 of her latest scholarship. The amounts of her scholarships over the years have varied. And there is no set percentage that she distributes to others.

“Every time I get a scholarship I give back,” she said. “It just depends on what’s needed for my family. We make sure our bills are covered and then we give some away.”

Sasakamoose is expected to complete her final semester in her Business Administration program this December.
Because of the pandemic, her schoolwork now is all being done online. She also finished off her spring semester and took her summer classes remotely this year.

Since she is also busy raising her children, Sasakamoose said she doesn’t mind the fact she’s completing her program remotely.

“Online is a little more convenient for me,” she said.

Though she is expected to earn her Business Administration degree in a few months, Sasakamoose is also keen to continue her education.

“I think I might pursue a second degree,” she said, adding she is waiting to hear back from school officials on the requirements necessary to have a double major.

To go along with her business degree, she’s also interested in earning a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies.

Plus, she’s also finishing up her last course towards her Economic Development certificate. After that she also needs just one final class to also complete her Reconciliation certificate.

Sasakamoose eventually wants to become an economic development officer, perhaps even for her own First Nation.

She said her latest ambition was inspired by the fact she attended Cando’s annual youth summit in August. This event was held virtually this year because of the pandemic.

“I kind of want to make a change,” said Sasakamoose, who grandfather Fred played 11 games in the National Hockey League with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1953-54 season. “The only way I see at making change is through economic development.”