Regan Ratt-Misponas says he has always wanted to help Indigenous communities, and is doing just that. Ratt-Misponas is from Panos Lake, SK, but grew up in Pinehouse Lake, SK, which is five and a half hours north of Saskatoon. He is a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band.
He has had an interesting post-secondary journey, even becoming the University of Saskatchewan’s Student Union president.
It started around five years ago when Ratt-Misponas and his mother were applying to post-secondary schools in places such as Saskatchewan, Ontario, and British Columbia.
Unfortunately he didn’t get accepted to some of the schools he applied for, but was accepted into the University of Saskatchewan and started out in the political studies program.
When he was in that program, he wanted to help Indigenous communities and see the governance side of things and the good that came from that, but it didn’t give him that “full” feeling.
“As wonderful as a program as it is, and there’s really some excellent students that have come from that program, it just wasn’t for me,” said Ratt-Misponas.
So he decided to go into Indigenous studies a year and a half later and says he loved it, especially being able to learn the history he did. He also says he really had the first hand experience to analyze his own identity as an Indigenous person.
But even though he thought it was a wonderful program, he missed the community aspect and decided to move into teaching.
Ratt-Misponas went into ITEP, the Indigenous Teachers Education Program at the University of Saskatchewan.
“I’ve gone through the entire campus, in multiple programs, and then two colleges, and on three different corners of campus in search of community support, especially as I delve into my own identity as an indigenous person, and ITEP was the best one for me,” said Ratt-Misponas.
In 2017, he ran for a position at the U of S as the president of the Indigenous student council, and encourages everyone to get involved in whatever post-secondary institution they’re in.
“I became involved with the Indigenous Student Council, and then I decided to later on, run for the president of the University of Saskatchewan Students Union. So, that gave me the opportunity to be the fifth indigenous person elected into that role and to serve in that role. And that was an honor that I will never forget,” said Ratt-Misponas.
For youth thinking of leaving their community to pursue post-secondary or a career, Ratt-Misponas acknowledges it was difficult, especially leaving behind his family and everyone he had grown up with and known his whole life.
He said he had to learn the “very hard way” of thinking about his community back home while also being resilient with his studies because “as hard as it is, you have to keep moving forward.”
“As difficult as it was, and as difficult as it continues to be, it was necessary. I don’t regret going to the University of Saskatchewan and being involved in that campus,” said Ratt-Misponas.
“In fact, that was how I was able to kind of make it past all those feelings that I had had before, was that I got involved and decided to help develop that kind of community, that small town kind of community in a much larger place, like the University of Saskatchewan.”
And if he could give a message to his younger self, it would be to take a piece of your community that you love and value, and take it to other places you find yourself in the future.
For Ratt-Misponas, it was taking that tight knit community in Pinehouse and creating one wherever he was at.
He would also say to be patient, with both himself and with his journey.
“Be patient with the types of things that you learn in your journey, but also don’t take yourself for granted. You have a lot to offer the world and a lot to offer our people and a lot to offer our nations and our communities,” said Ratt-Misponas.
“I guess that’s my message for Indigenous youth across the countries, we need you. We need you here with us while we move forward with our collective journey as Indigenous people.”
Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.