Staff Spotlight: Cecil Roulette

Staff Spotlight: Cecil Roulette

My name is Cecil Roulette. I’ve been an employee at Assiniboine for over 20 years. As we’ve expanded our team and department, my title has changed over the years. My current title is Indigenous student success advisor. I work with Indigenous students and other student success advisors for each of the programs at Assiniboine. We work with students and help sort out any problems or difficulties they may have and try to set them up as best we can to ensure they have every chance to succeed during their time here at the college. It’s not only academic based; students can reach out to us about anything: personal conflicts or even financial problems they may be facing. Our job is to point them in the right direction even if that means connecting with resources outside Assiniboine that are available to them.

The best part of my job is meeting and working with students. It’s very fulfilling when I’ve had a chance to work with someone and then see them walk across the stage at graduation. I’ve not only tried to be a mentor to the students but sometimes they become really good friends and the relationships last even after graduation. I’ve had students that have stayed in touch and come visit me still whenever they are feeling down or just need advice. I’ve had students email me years after they graduated just to thank me for being there for them. It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve helped make a difference for someone.

I have so many great memories over the 20 years I’ve worked at the college. Some of the best have come from working with the Elders in the elders program we have here at Assiniboine. Being able to listen to their stories, talk with them, and then help share those stories with our students is wonderful. The Elders program was set up to provide even more mentorship to our students; it’s important to have people to talk to that have been through a lot of different situations and come from many of the same communities our students come from. Sometimes a student might feel more comfortable talking about a specific issue with an Elder or Knowledge Keeper and this provides them that opportunity.

It’s been a journey getting people to see and understand the importance of what we are doing here in the community at the college. We have been doing a lot of great things not only with students but also with our staff. We hold a lot more Indigenous events and workshops now than we ever have to help everyone understand things like the effects of residential schools and how it plays on our students. It took us a long time to get to where we are.

I remember when we first started doing traditions, like smudging; there were a lot of negative comments about what we were doing. You’d overhear students walking by the cultural centre and making rude comments about it. But it’s been great to see how far we’ve come as an institution and how much support we have. We now have many opportunities to talk about these traditions with all of our students. Opportunities like student orientation, where we bring all of the new Assiniboine students each year into the cultural centre and teach them about these traditions that they may not know much about. We show them it’s about healing and self-care. So, the next time they walk by the cultural centre and smell burning, they have an understanding of what’s going on and the reasons behind it. It really does go a long way and has changed people’s perception of it.

I’m proud of how much awareness we’ve been able to raise on some of the important issues from our past. Some of the things we have now, like the tipi on each of our campus grounds goes a long way symbolizing our culture and is great for our people to see that when they visit our campuses for the first time. Even non-Indigenous people, it's important for them to see it and let them know about the history of our land.

As an institution, we’ve been able to host some important Indigenous events. Most recently, the Our Journey: Indigenous Student Celebration which was held at the Riverbank Discovery Centre in Brandon. We partnered with Brandon University and the Brandon School Division to celebrate First Nations, Métis and Inuit student achievements and honoured our graduating students through ceremony and traditional ways. It was great to honour the successes and accomplishments of our students, but even more importantly, to show the younger generations and high school students in attendance what’s possible.