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Alana Pawley wins 2017 Aboriginal Award of Excellence

April 18, 2017
Congratulations are in order for Huron and King’s student Alana Pawley. Alana is the undergraduate recipient of the Valio Markkanen Aboriginal Award of Excellence for 2017, this is annually awarded to an Aboriginal undergraduate and graduate student with First Nations, Metis and/or Inuit ancestry, who has achieved excellence in academics, and has also been actively contributing to the Indigenous community.

“I am Ojibwe from Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation in Southwestern Ontario,” Alana explains. “My Anishinaabe name is Whassayanakwadikwe (shining cloud woman) and I am a member of the Whaubesheshii (marten) clan.” Alana was raised in London, Ontario and graduated from Saunders Secondary School.
In addition to the Aboriginal Award of Excellence, Alana has also been named the 2017 recipient of the Applied Indigenous Scholarship for excellence in academics and demonstrated commitment for working towards decolonization and healing in Indigenous communities.

While at Huron, Alana found an academic community that was an exciting combination of hands-on experiences, with supportive professors who push students to excel.

“Huron holds its students to high and attainable standards that demand their best performance. The professors in the CGS department are some of the best I've encountered. They have constantly encouraged me in my studies and wrote me endless reference letters for award opportunities! I wouldn't be where I am today without their support.”

As a department, CGS’s combination of analysis and hands-on learning through “a refreshingly critical lens,” contributed to Alana’s communication skills. “CGS also teaches valuable skills for real-world careers such as project management, research, and proposal writing.”

In the wider community, Alana is a member of Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. “Three Fires is an Indigenous community made up of diverse peoples from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit ancestry that practice traditional ceremonies in Southwestern Ontario and beyond. We work to provide traditional teachings and healing through ceremony to surrounding Indigenous communities,” Alana says.

For this engaged and compassionate student, leadership with heart means personal connection to your involvements. “For me, this has looked like my involvement in my own Indigenous communities since this is an intrinsic part of who I am and my life path,” she says. “Leaders with heart also compassionately connect with others based in their unique lived experiences, and see that everyone has something to offer. You go beyond the boundaries of your set role to encourage others along their life path and form meaningful connections in communities. In other words, leading with heart produces other leaders with heart.”

With long-term plans to apply to University of Victoria’s Masters of Indigenous Governance program for autumn 2020, this April will see Alana taking on a full-time position at At^lohsa Native Family Healing Services Inc. as the Cultural Justice Coordinator.

“I will be working with Indigenous elders to create, implement, and monitor the Justice for Families program. This program will provide healing to families and members of Indigenous communities who have experienced family violence in the London area, through cultural methods such as ceremonies and restorative justice circles.”

On behalf of the entire community at Huron University College, congratulations go out to Alana Pawley, Class of 2017!