Lozen Osecap

Transformation Through Education: Lozen Osecap Pursues Truth and Justice At School

“I've changed so much since I started university. It's helped me to walk away from a lot of things that were really harmful and has just really changed who I am as a person,” says Lozen Osecap, a sociology major at the University of British Columbia who comes from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Previously, Osecap went to University of Alberta for two years and University of Saskatchewan for four. In the beginning of her academic journey, she wanted to become a nurse or emergency responder and growing up, she wanted to become a lawyer. 

Eventually, she landed on studying sociology as a way to disentangle herself from false beliefs that had been imposed on her that she or individuals were responsible for the abuse she had endured and learn more about the systemic causes of racism. She wanted to unpack the gaslighting, systemic discrimination and the idea that she was somehow inferior and understand where it all came from. 

Always good at school, going to university was Osecap’s plan from the beginning. Easily bored and highly competitive, she enjoyed school and wanted to be successful, make money and a difference. 

“I wanted to make change because I knew I had the power to do it and that seemed to be a powerful route to go. So that's what I pursued,” she explains. 

A sixties scoop survivor who was adopted by white people who manipulated her birth mother into giving her up when she was just sixteen, her childhood was full of abuse at the hands of her adoptive mother. Raised as a fundamentalist Christian in small-town Saskatchewan, she was kicked out and in foster care in her early teens, aging out and ending up homeless. Throughout these challenges, Osecap kept going to school, a safe place where she could prove her worth with grades and earn academic accomplishments that couldn’t be taken away.  

At 23, Osecap became a mother as part of an abusive relationship she ultimately left to go to university. Without support or mentors, she struggled against the racist stereotypes people wanted to attach to her. Pursuing her education was one way she could push back against the desire to mould her into something she wasn’t. “It was me, basically, wanting to be myself and be seen for who I am, and not for what they wanted me to be,” she reflects. 

Propelling her forward was a desire to be published, to engage in activism and to gain the power she lacked growing up. She loved reading and wanted to write. “I just wanted to be able to have my voice heard and have people understand the way that I see the world,” she muses. When she thought about the powerful people she observed growing up, she didn’t see them using it for good and she wanted to be able to influence for the better through writing, art and the law, and to empower people to make their own decisions. As a single mother putting herself through university, she doesn’t have time to write a book but she dreams of the day she can. 

Illustration by Shaikara David

For most of her academic career, Osecap has been working toward a dream of becoming a lawyer but she’s been hearing that there is an oversaturation in the market and she’s come to her own conclusions around how frustrating it might be to be operating in a justice system that isn’t set up to deliver justice. As an artist and musician, she has lots she wants to create and she hopes to put her skills to use in community activism. Her musical expression of choice is as a percussionist, having spent time playing music on the streets for money, hitchhiking and hopping trains to busk across the country. The contrast from that life to that of an academic has been striking. 

Outside of a legal career, Osecap has had another area of focus. “What I've been pursuing, basically, my entire academic career is just the disentanglement of the manipulation and the lies the Indigenous community has been fed, the things that I've come to realize in my life. I feel like I want to give that to other Indigenous people, too. I just have to find the right medium, either through my art, music, or through law, or I’ve even considered medicine. Whichever position, as I said, will give me the most power to do that, I'm still trying to figure that out,” she confides. 

To take care of herself, Osecap has been redefining her relationship with alcohol and marijuana to align with her goals, academic and parenting priorities and lifestyle choices. She smudges and prays, finding her own way of being spiritual after growing up with religious trauma, having been adopted by missionaries. While religion and spirituality have been exploited by colonialism, Osecap sees benefits in spiritual connection that she feels are worthy of pursuit as part of being human. 

In closing, Osecap offers these words of hope and encouragement, sharing, “Despite what colonialism has done to our people, the thing that colonizers are most afraid of is us continuing to believe in ourselves and for us to continue to pursue power. If Indigenous people didn't have power, if they didn't have what it takes to get themselves out of the colonial systems that have abused us, then would it try so hard to keep us down? If there was no point, then they wouldn't have spent all this money trying to keep us from being independent and from pursuing our own goals, because there is a lot of money and a lot of effort that goes into keeping Indigenous people down. If you continue to fight and continue to be your best self, that undermines the colonial powers and it adds to everything that we've built as a community and adds to your legacy.”

University has changed Lozen Osecap and now she’s trying to change the world through art, music, writing and some path to be determined toward justice. She started off wanting to heal people medically but ended up coming to a place of wanting to heal the harm that comes from the lies Indigenous people have been told through racism and colonization. School was once a place she could prove her worth and it’s become somewhere she’s learned she was always worthy and about all the forces that got in the way of seeing that sooner. 

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
    First Nations
  • Province/Territory
    British Columbia
  • Date
    March 5, 2024
  • Post Secondary Institutions
    No PSI found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

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