She Shoots, She Scores: Basketball Coach, Model and Nurse is a Winning Combination for Shenise Sigs
“I'm just always busy, always on the go, always saying yes to new opportunities and it's been an amazing journey so far,” says Shenise Sigs. She is from Alexandria First Nations, was born in Winnipeg, moved to Edmonton to live with her grandmother, then continued on to Kamloops after being adopted when she was three. Kamloops is where she went to high school and university on a basketball scholarship. She now lives in Vancouver, working part-time modelling with Supernaturals, nursing, coaching basketball and mentoring youth.
In high school, she excelled in math and sciences and took general sciences in her first year of university. An academic advisor suggested she try nursing and her aunties who were nurses agreed. Her basketball schedule was intense and meant she missed a lot of school time but her professors were supportive and helped her on their own time. She learned more about how diverse nursing jobs can be, from vaccinations, school and travel nursing and the travel in particular got her excited.
Her advice for Indigenous students thinking about attending post-secondary is encouraging. “Go into something that you're passionate about, because it makes the long hours of staying up and studying worth it, getting up in the morning feeling motivated,” she suggests.
“There are going to be some times where you're not very motivated to get out of bed and people aren't grinding the way you are. But if it's something that you really want, that should give you the motivation to get up and do it,” she continues.
Her own transition to university wasn’t too tough given it was in her hometown but friends who studied outside their home province have shared how much of a struggle it can be. That’s why she suggests taking the minimum number of courses in the first year to get grounded and settle in. There are a lot of life skills to learn your first time living away from home and leaving space for that is something she recommends.
She struggled some as an Indigenous person going to university. “There weren't a lot of people that looked like me necessarily. Finding friends, and a community that supports you is huge,” she shares, encouraging students to stay in touch with family and friends by phone or text message.
One of her friends actually got her into modelling. Sigs’ friend from basketball, Joleen, is the founder of Supernaturals modelling and she invited her to shoot one day. Sigs thought she meant hoops, as in basketball, but she found out that a photo shoot was what she actually meant. While her first shoot was uncomfortable, she has grown to be comfortable with the work and was signed by the agency.
“Never in a million years would I think I would be doing modelling. But it was just the right time.”
Outside of overcoming her discomfort modelling, Sigs has also had to overcome racism in healthcare and athletics. She found support to push through in her community. She also learned to have a voice to stand up for her clients and have their backs like she does her teammates on the basketball court.
To have her own back, if she could give a message to her younger self it would be “Just be confident in yourself. You can do whatever you want. Whatever you've set your mind to, your goals, they're attainable. You can do it.” Growing up, Sigs was quiet and reserved and didn’t see her own potential. She practices self-love daily and wishes she started ten years ago.
When it comes to balancing her mental health, Sigs loves to play basketball and engage in physical activity. “I do know that I cannot play basketball forever so now I'm just going to incorporate things that aren't so strenuous on my body,” she explains. That includes breathing meditations, getting out into the sunshine, going for walks, journaling, and listening to audiobooks. With a busy schedule, downtime to recover is really important for her.
Family and friends and the nourishment and reciprocity that comes from their relationships inspire Sigs to keep going. She loves seeing people doing big things in their community and being connected through social media. Giving back to the community that has supported her and her journey has also been a boost for her.
From nursing, coaching basketball and mentoring youth, being a role model and an actual model, she’s finding her place in so many spaces. Always busy, on the go, and saying yes to new opportunities, Shenise Sigs has been on an amazing journey so far and she’s empowering youth to do the same. Life wasn’t always picture perfect, but she’s learned to shine on camera and see what develops from the experiences she has.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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.