FEATURE STORY: MEET CHASITY

 

At the age of three, Chasity Cairns was gifted the name Misko Bineshe Ikwe or, Red Hawk Woman, by Elder Don Daniels in Long Plains First Nations in Manitoba. Now, as the manager of Indigenous engagement & student supports at Medicine Hat College (MHC), she has been blessed by Elder Dan Fox from the Blackfoot community with the name Saaám Aakíí, or, Medicine Woman.

Chasity’s background is whole and diverse, her story beginning in Manitoba. Her father is Saulteaux, a First Nations community from O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi, or Crane River, situated on Treaty 2 Territory. Her mother is Métis and comes from a little community called Cayer, Manitoba. Identity is everything to Chasity, a citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Local 8.

Adorned in a ribbon skirt, beaded jewelry made by Indigenous Elders, and a sash traditionally worn by the Métis for purpose and now worn with pride, she is committed to Indigenous education and building a safe environment on campus for students and community members to gather, celebrate and feel supported.

Led by Heart and History

While her roots are in Manitoba, Chasity has found home in a number of provinces, including Ontario, British Colombia and Alberta. With a passion for helping others, Chasity feels she was called to her profession through education.

Her career began after she obtained her Administrative Office Management diploma and accepted a position with the Government of Alberta, working for children’s services. This branch of services focuses on delivering supports and services to children, youth and families. Her career brought her to Medicine Hat, working for Southeast Alberta Child and Family Services, however after 10 years in the industry, she decided to go back to school.

“I was tired of pushing paper and I wanted to help. In my previous role, I saw firsthand the discrimination that our people face but I couldn’t really do anything. So, I ended up taking the Social Work diploma program at MHC,” Chasity explains.  

A mature student and mother of three, Chasity studied tirelessly to do well in school. She worked through the summers as a disability services worker at REDI Enterprises to support her family, while managing to graduate from the program as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

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