Kelly Fiddler considering teaching option after obtaining Master’s degree
By Sam Laskaris
Kelly Fiddler has gathered plenty of work experience during the past couple of decades.
Yet Fiddler, a member of Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, continues to improve himself.
The 45-year-old is currently working part-time as the executive director for the Muskoday Economic Development Authority, the business arm of the Muskoday First Nation.
Fiddler is also enrolled in the Masters in Business Administration program offered through Cape Breton University. He’s able to take his classes, however, through the Warman campus of Great Plains College in Warman, Sask.
“I wanted to push myself to learn new things,” Fiddler said, explaining his desire to pursue his Master’s degree in his 40s. “I always had an interest in going back (to school). But I also always wanted to have some work experience, too.”
He had previously earned an Arts & Science degree as well as his Bachelor of Commerce degree through the University of Saskatchewan.
Fiddler recently found out he’d be getting some financial assistance in pursuit of his Master’s degree.
That’s because he’s one of four recipients this year of National Indigenous Economic Education Fund (NIEEF) scholarships.
These awards are made possible through a charitable foundation via Cando, the national organization that promotes economic development in Indigenous communities across Canada.
The NIEEF scholarship winners receive $2,000 each.
“It means a lot to me because I feel obviously education is pretty expensive,” he said. “So, I’m thankful for that support.”
Fiddler said he will accumulate about $32,000 in expenses while he pursues his Master’s degree. He’s expected to graduate from his two-year program in the fall of 2022.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of Fiddler’s classes have been online.
“It’s a lot easier for me (learning from home) because I have a disability,” said Fiddler, who has mobility issues and uses a scooter.
Fiddler began experiencing muscle degeneration in his 30s and has been diagnosed with Kennedy’s disease, a rare neuromuscular disorder.
Fiddler is hoping his higher education will lead to something else.
“I’ll be looking to get full-time employment,” he said. “I’ve been doing some consulting part-time. But that’s feast or famine.”
Fiddler had various jobs during the past couple of decades. About half of those were working with the provincial government while the other half were with various Indigenous organizations.
One of his positions was serving as the band manager for his own First Nation for two years.
Teaching is another option he might explore in the future.
“I realize I have a lot to share in terms of Indigenous economic development,” he said adding he possibly might look at becoming a professor. “We have so many opportunities and we need to mentor our youth to get into economic development.”
Fiddler is no stranger to Cando. He’s worked with the organization over the years and has helped run numerous events.
Recently he received his Cando certification, becoming a Professional Aboriginal Economic Developer.
Fiddler is also a Saskatchewan representative who sits on the board of directors for the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada.