Connection to land inspires academic path

As National Indigenous History Month draws to a close, Environmental Engineering student Kiley Jackson shares her thoughts on the importance of taking time to draw attention to and recognize First Nations traditions, history and culture. It was her direct connection to the land that drew her into environmental engineering at UNBC.

June 30, 2022
Kiley Jackson
Kiley Jackson grew up on the traditional territories of the Tse’Khene Nation in northern B.C. and is pursuing an Environmental Engineering degree at UNBC.

Helping her dad maintain the family trapline is, in part, what led Kiley Jackson to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering at UNBC.

Although she is a descendent of many nations - her mom is Scottish/Dene and her dad is Carrier/Tse’Khene - Jackson practices Tse’Khene traditions. 

She spent her late childhood on the traditional territories of the Tse’Khene Nation with her band in and around McLeod Lake in northern B.C. and graduated from Mackenzie Secondary School in 2019.

“My dad and I started to notice an alarming decline in wildlife in the area where we trapped due to the expansion of logging,” says Jackson. “Around the same time, my mom became a first-generation student at UNBC. Both clearing the trapline and my mom attending school inspired me to look into environment-related programs at the University.”

As caretakers of the land, Jackson says her ancestors envisioned future generations being able to appreciate both the land and their culture. For her, National Indigenous History Month helps to realize their vision. “Having time dedicated to this idea will help bring it back into reality,” she says. “It’s also a time when I can fully embrace and share where I come from – it’s important to me to be able to celebrate First Nations traditions and history.”

As she spends the summer working in preparation for returning to her studies this fall, Jackson has a message for Indigenous youth considering post-secondary education. “Don’t be afraid to apply, even if you don’t feel prepared enough!”

Coming from a small town and finding high school a challenge, Jackson says she sometimes felt like it would be impossible to succeed.  “But I wanted to prove to myself I could do it.  If you try your hardest and don’t give up, you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish.”