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JSF Indigenous scholar and student-athlete spends summer mentoring students back home
Following closely in the footsteps of Johnson Scholar Cody Anthony is Saije Catcheway, who has recently completed her second year of a Bachelor of Commerce, studying Business Management and Law.
Catcheway cites coming to Toronto to study and join the Varsity Women’s Hockey team as a “dream come true.”
She too is a recipient of the JSF Scholarship, which Catcheway says reinforced her belief in herself. “This gracious gift showed that my hard work is paying off and relieved a weight from my shoulders,” she says. “I’m grateful for being able to continue my education while knowing that I’m able to pay my living expenses and my transportation home.”
Catcheway is Ojibwe-Cree and returns home for four months in the summer break to Skownan First Nation in Manitoba to mentor students from Grade 3 to Grade 7 through speaking engagements and athletics. Her mentorship initiative is funded by the Ted Rogers Student’s Society Leadership Award.
Education on the reservation only goes to Grade 10, but – thanks to a scholarship – Catcheway, who was born and raised in nearby Winnipeg, had the opportunity to attend and graduate with honors from an all-girls private school. Soon after, she attended college in the U.S., but the high tuition and cost of living led her to leave. She thought her dreams to pursue post- secondary education and play college-level hockey may have ended, until she was accepted to study business at TMU, which she says was always her number-one choice.
She emphasizes that “in the TMU culture, athletics are at a very high standard, but as a student athlete, ‘student’ comes first, academics come first.” Balancing both academic and athletics has helped her hone her time management skills to balance school with practice, training and traveling for hockey games. In the process, she has also been awarded the Ontario University Athletics Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award in 2023.
She feels she’s at TMU “for a reason” and wants to continue to be a role model for her First Nation community and culture, who along with her family have been supportive of her goals.
This summer, she hopes to also mentor the high school students and consult with the Skownan chief, counsel and teachers about expanding opportunities, perhaps online, for learners past Grade 10.
“I want to inspire these kids to further their education. I want to be a role model to promote inclusivity, change and opportunity, especially for Indigenous women in the workplace,” Catcheway says. “I can’t stress enough that you’ve got to love what you’re studying and be passionate about your goals in school in order to do well and to have fun.” She hopes to pursue a law degree after graduation.
The Johnson Scholarship Foundation continues to make higher education accessible for three additional Indigenous students who are studying Professional Music, Midwifery and Sociology at TMU and who are passionate about making a positive impact in their communities.