My Jijuu (grandmother) calls me by my Gwich’in name, “Gwik’itchihkheh”, but most others just call me Shayla. I was born and raised by the Peel River in Gwich’in country – Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories. I’m currently attending the University of Alberta where I am studying Native Studies & Education.
As a young, Indigenous woman, I have to come to understand the value of heritage and education and how the two are intertwined into my life, just like a braid. There are three strands. One strand is my culture – hunting, fishing, sewing, the land, the language, and my Jijuu. The next strand is education – learning and experiencing new things everyday, my desire to obtain a degree in order to give back to my community through education. The last strand is me– my heart, soul, strength, beliefs, dreams, goals and my love. Each strand is just as important and inspirited as the next.