Excelling beyond the court

< More Stories
April 23, 2019
On and off the court, Michael Linklater is championing basketball, Cree culture and the lives of Indigenous youth.
Michael Linklater
The 2009 university transfer alumnus has dedicated his life to basketball for more than 25 years. Since picking up the sport in grade school, he’s become the number one International Basketball Federation (FIBA) three-on-three basketball player in Canada and is ranked 29th internationally.
“I love playing the game. I always look to challenge myself to be a better person and basketball does that for me. Something that kept me in the game for so long was also the team environment. I like the sense of belonging and individuals coming together to achieve a common goal,” Linklater says.
Linklater represented Team Canada at the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup in the Philippines. He’s represented Team Saskatoon at the 2014-2017 3x3 FIBA World Tours. He hopes to play in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo when three-on-three basketball makes its debut.
When he’s not on the professional circuit, he’s helping youth to become champions in sport and life. Linklater owns and operates Prime Basketball Development in Saskatoon, Sask., a company he established in 2011 that features individual skill development, key concepts of teamwork, and classroom setting instruction. He also travels to Indigenous communities and hosts individual and team development clinics. Linklater says it’s important to him to train youth with first-hand, practical experience.
“All of my coaches have college, university, or professional playing experience. As a young athlete, I was very fortunate to acquire a certain skill set that allowed me to surpass my coaches’ experience. With my background, I understand the importance of coaching from a player perspective. We also train them to work hard and learn, through self-discovery, how they can transfer their skills to real life,” he says.
Linklater played for the Lakeland Rustlers men’s basketball team before going on to captain the University of Saskatchewan Huskies team. As a Huskie, he made history by leading the team to its first and only CanWest Conference Championship and Canadian Interuniversity Sport National Championship in 2010. Beyond professional athletics, Linklater uses his platform to give back.
Linklater travels to Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan to share stories about his childhood. From witnessing substance abuse and making a promise to abstain from both to overcoming bullying for braiding his hair, Linklater has used his life experiences to inspire his audiences for more than 20 years.
In 2014 he founded Boys with Braids, an international movement that spotlights the cultural significance of why Indigenous boys and men wear a braid.
“I have always had long hair and I used to get teased for it. It weighed on me as a child and it was traumatic. Now, I have my own family and sons who have long hair. Each of them is coming home with the same experiences. I realized something needed to be done in order to create awareness, encouragement and general education for the public,” says the descendant of Thunderchild First Nation, located on Treaty 6 Territory.
Since the inception of Boys with Braids, communities across North America have adopted the campaign and hosted gatherings and events. Linklater’s advocacy hasn’t gone unnoticed. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work including an Indspire Award for his outstanding career achievements and service to the Aboriginal community, as well as a Tom Longboat Award for his outstanding contributions to sport in Canada.
“To be recognized nationally for my achievements is very exciting, humbling and encouraging. It’s validation that I am doing the right thing and that my work is important. It inspires me to keep doing what I am doing.”
You can also read Linklater's story in the latest edition of the Excel Alumni Magazine.
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

What Alumni Say
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.

– Sandi Unruh

Senior Human Resources Consultant

What Faculty & Staff Say
Vertex has had great experience bringing on students from Lakeland College. We have found the Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Management) program to provide students with good academic knowledge of the environmental industry and the criteria that governs the land reclamation

– Sean Fuller B.Sc., P.Ag.

Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

What Alumni Say
There is no way I would be where I am today without Lakeland College. It inspired me to be a better person and to get a job in something I love doing. I am so thankful I had such a great experience at Lakeland and I hope future students do as well.

– Danielle Gaboury

Business studies, Class of 2016.

What Students Say
I recommend the UT program to people all the time. The smaller setting Lakeland offers, is very conducive to learning. It's less intimidating than the larger universities and allows for more class interactions and discussions

– Kelly Mykytuk

2nd year UT student, 2017-18

What Alumni Say
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

What Alumni Say
I have loved my experience at Lakeland. The teachers are personable, and quick to share about their own experiences. They encouraged me to run with my own ideas and see what would happen; they got excited about my designs, which gave me the confidence to do my best and be more creative.

– Payton Ramstead

Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

What Alumni Say
At Lakeland College you are guaranteed to have time out of the classroom where you can put everything you learned together and actually see that what you’re learning is relevant.

– Alisa Brace

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

– Grayden Kay

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.

– Carson Reid

Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
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.

– Jessica Cadrain

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.

– Dean Coulson

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

– Ali Mullin

Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

What Alumni Say
I feel the professors at Lakeland actually prepared me for the profession. It’s impossible to be just a number here when there are 12 students in all of your classes. When the school advertised small class sizes, they actually meant it.

– Stephen Mark Visser

Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I was involved in the president’s gala in April where I was an emcee for the evening, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it and would recommend it to everyone.”

– Lucas Tetreault

HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I would recommend Lakeland College for the simple fact that it's for everybody. As a mature student who went back to school much later than his 18th year, I was immediately accepted, and not ostracized in the least

– Donald James Shaw

Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
All the hands-on learning was great and very helpful once placed into the industry. Having clients leave with a smile after each service assured me that I was in the right field of work. I would recommend Lakeland to anyone.

– Courtnee Coolidge

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.

– Sheldon Farrell

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.

– Darby Watchel

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Employers Say
Lakeland is a great place to find employees. The college provides real world training that equips soon-to-be employees with knowledge and people skills that are highly sought after in the agriculture industry these days.

– Dustin Dinwoodie

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