Sending love to Indigenous youth

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September 23, 2020
Lakeland College alumna Linda Johnson left a legacy of making a difference in the lives of Indigenous students when she was a student at Lakeland and she continues to do so since graduating.
Linda Johnson
While completing her business administration diploma, Johnson advocated for more supports for Indigenous students at Lakeland. She was involved in starting the Indigenous Student Committee as well as taking the first steps to create the Indigenous Student Lounge at the Lloydminster campus, which opened in 2018. Along with other students on the committee, Johnson worked with Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, Lakeland president and CEO, to bring awareness to Indigenous culture through many initiatives. She then went on to complete a business management degree in partnership with Athabasca University.
“I love Lakeland,” she says. “It was amazing. We worked together to bring in more supports for Indigenous students, including the Indigenous Student Committee and other programs to assist students, like hiring the Indigenous liaison and creating the lounge. Dr. Wainwright-Stewart was so good to work with. She loved all of our ideas and was 100 per cent committed to helping us bring them to life.”
Since graduating in 2013, Johnson’s passion for supporting Indigenous students has only grown.
When she learned about a rising number of youths dying by suicide on the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation (MSFN) School last year, it was an issue that touched her personally. Though Johnson now lives in Saskatoon, she had lived in the MSFN community, worked as an administrative assistant at the school and raised her children there.
Johnson has also seen firsthand the damage this kind of tragedy can leave on those left behind. Her sister-in-law’s son died by suicide at 16, the same age as Johnson’s daughter.
“I’ve seen a mother go through issues like these, I’ve seen the effect this has on family members. It hurts so much and my family is still dealing with it to this day,” she explains. “I felt so helpless. I know so many of the families in MSFN, so many of the students, and I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help because I wasn’t there.”
Johnson began to see a wave of support from people around the world who shared how loved and valuable the youth of the community are through social media, as well as sent their love, thoughts and prayers.
“I thought about the younger children who might not have social media or those who may not have access to the internet, and I started to wonder if there was a way to send those messages to them physically. It was such an outpouring of love, I wanted to make sure everyone in the community could feel it.”
Inspired by how families express their love through Christmas cards, Send Some Love to MSFN Youth was born. Using Facebook, Johnson encouraged everyone to send Christmas cards to the community to ensure they knew they were loved.
The results far exceeded her expectations. The community received countless cards from all over the world and Johnson’s friends sent her pictures of the newest deliveries, of boxes and boxes of cards, every day.
“I had to drive up and see it for myself,” she says. “The students couldn’t believe that there were people from England, from Hawaii, from all over the world that had sent them cards. Reading them was amazing. They were so personal, so heartwarming and heartfelt. They created a sense of being loved.”
The entire project has taught Johnson some important lessons on the value of community and, most importantly, the impact a single person can have.
“All I did was write a Facebook post,” Johnson says. “If you really believe in something and it’s hanging on your heart, I encourage you to go out there and take that step or that risk because you never know. You could be changing someone’s life or helping them along the way. People really can make a difference by taking the smallest step.”

What Students Say
With the Student-Managed Farm you learn to be accountable for what you’re doing and the choices you make. You get an understanding of what it’s like to be out in industry or on a farm making decisions that count.

– Anthony Biglieni

Agribusiness Class of 2006

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Lakeland College has been a integral partner in growing our own through the school of business. As an alumnus of the college, I have first-hand learning experience in the school of business. The professors welcome Servus Credit Union to facilitate classes in the Business Ethics course each year.

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Senior Human Resources Consultant

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Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

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Business studies, Class of 2016.

What Students Say
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2nd year UT student, 2017-18

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Choosing to attend Lakeland College was one of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life so far. The welcoming and friendly Lakeland environment encourages a place of excellence, and fosters the ability to be successful not only in school, but in life.

– Mariah Van’t Hof

University Transfer, Class of 2015

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Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

What Alumni Say
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Animal Health Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The friendships I made, the experiences we were provided with, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Vermilion Campus made my time at Lakeland extremely valuable and memorable

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Animal Science & Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College was a learning environment unlike any other school. It allows students to learn beyond the classroom, and staff and faculty genuinely want to see students succeed. It’s a place where you can feel comfortable asking questions and where everyone has a place and fits in.

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Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

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The instructors were the highlight of my time at Lakeland. It made a huge impact on my college experience to have instructors who challenged, encouraged, and believed in me.

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Child & Youth Care, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
At the beginning of my first year, I was really stressed out as I felt I had no artistic ability. But with the instruction and time put in by the interior design faculty, I was able to develop my artistic abilities. Now I am fully confident in and exceeding well in the artistic side of this career!

– Naomi Mason

Interior Design Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I just feel like you get the best education at Lakeland, especially from the time that the instructors can actually spend with you. I like the class sizes too – everything’s been great about my Lakeland experience.

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Heavy Equipment Technician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I do give Lakeland College credit for reigniting my interest and even preparing me for Miss Rodeo Canada. Lakeland helped me to grow enough to have the confidence to think I could take on that role and become that person. I think that I have and I am really grateful for that

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Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

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Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
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HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

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Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

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Esthetician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The professors care so much about their students at Lakeland and are able to know each and every one of them by name, so much so that they are able to nominate a ton of students for awards.

– Stephanie Wakefeild

University Transfer, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
They really put you in the lead at Lakeland. Lakeland cares about its students, empowers them, and gives them opportunities to achieve their goals. I don’t see Lakeland as a stepping stone or a first step – I see it as a bridge and an integral part of my education.

– Alyssa Wells

University Transfer, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I wanted to get experience in the field of assessment as it would give me exposure to what it’s like day to day. It was an invaluable experience as I find it hard to imagine what it would be like working in a particular field or area until I’m doing the work.

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Real estate appraisal and assessment, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
In the campus spa, they give you time to work with each client so nothing is rushed and you’re able to concentrate on providing the best service you can to your client.

– Daphney Couturier

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
It’s going to be a lot easier to start our first jobs having this experience and having been able to build our confidence in the campus spa. I love that we get to have this opportunity.

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Esthetician, Class of 2017.

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Key Account Manager – Western Canada Arysta LifeScience

What Alumni Say
The hands-on field trips, quality of education i received, professors who are invested in your success, and all the friends I made. I exceeded my academic expectations and I also had a lot of fun. If i had to do it all over gain, i would choose Lakeland!

– Nicole (Audet) Pysh

Class of 2006, Environmental Protection & Class of 2008, Applied Environmental Degree