Cultural pride and hard work a winning combination for Benson
- Brendan Mayer | September 03, 2020
Morningsong Benson of Red Pheasant Cree Nation spoke Cree at Sakewew High School in North Battleford, loved her Native Studies class best and participated in every feast and pipe ceremony.
That cultural pride and hard work in her classes attracted the attention of awards committees who chose her to receive the $1,000 William Swimmer Award and several other awards totaling $2,550. Among them was the Battlefords Tribal Council Perseverance Award for keeping up her studies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I never thought I would get these awards,” Benson said. “I was shocked and I’m happy. It means a lot to me. I’ve always doubted myself. I put my all into my homework and got it done. This year was really tough because of COVID-19. I’m used to the classroom. It really challenged me. I’ve learned to work hard. You will always have challenges in life. I had encouragement from my parents, siblings and teachers. I’ve always wanted to graduate. Getting my diploma was a good experience. It’s a good feeling.”
Sakewew principal Shauna Bugler said Benson is very deserving of the award.
“She’s a kind, caring and responsible student. All of her teachers have said that she’s a hard worker,” said Bugler. “She’s respectful and gets all her assignments in on time. It was hard keeping kids engaged during this time. She was focused and did great.”
Benson enjoyed going to the culture room at her school and smudged every morning. She has been dancing at powwows since 2016 and says more Indigenous-focused courses should be taught at Saskatchewan schools.
Benson will start the Continuing Care Assistant program at North West College in North Battleford in September. After finishing the one-year program, she hopes to work at the Red Pheasant Health Clinic.
“I see myself working on the reserve,” she said. “I love my reserve.”
Bugler said Benson was the first of the grade 12 students this year to get her application in for post secondary education.
“She’s a really great role model. Other students respected her. She carries herself well. I think she will do great in college. She’s got the drive and knows what she wants to do.”