Meet Shyanna Denny: Second year student interested in a career in law, helping fellow Indigenous people in Canada

Shyanna Denny

Editor’s Note: As we celebrate Mi’kmaq History Month in October, we’re proud to spotlight some of our own people, Indigenous culture, contributions and history.

In only her second year at StFX, Shyanna Denny of Pictou Landing First Nation is already giving back. The second year political science student who is minoring in public policy is currently one of four Indigenous student mentors at StFX, students who help their fellow Indigenous students succeed and flourish.

“StFX is such a great campus, what drew me here was the class sizes and the Town of Antigonish itself as it is such a beautiful small town that has lots to offer,” says Ms. Denny, who would like eventually to pursue a career in law. “I always wanted to pursue a career where I can help fellow Indigenous people in Canada, so I thought a BA in political science and a minor in public policy would be great here as they have a great public policy and governance program.”

Ms. Denny says her experience at StFX has been great so far. “I have met so many great people here and have been able to find and build myself as a person here.”

It’s critically important to celebrate Mi’kmaq History Month, and Indigenous culture and history all year, she says.  

“Colonization almost destroyed our culture, language and identity all over Turtle Island and as a nation, some are still healing and dealing with the intergenerational trauma that came from it.  So it’s important to shine a spotlight on the culture and history to keep the culture alive. Teaching and learning are the best ways to keep it alive. Through this, more people can learn about the history of and effects of colonization but also the rich people and culture that we have.”

She recommends to anyone wanting to learn more or educate themselves, to make an effort to listen to the many Indigenous voices all over Turtle Island, “who need to have their voices heard and listened to. Attending events in our local Mi'kmaq communities like a mawo'mi, which is a great opportunity to see the culture, language and practices.”

Ms. Denny says she sees more talk about reconciliation than she does in actions to move toward it. “As I find most people have a Eurocentric view on how to work toward reconciliation and with that, I think that once people start to understand the truth about the abuse and pain and suffering that was endured by those who attended the government mandated schools, as we were believed to be savages, a burden to their European society and in need of guidance on the ‘right way to live’ which was just the white way. Once people start to understand this and the intergenerational trauma that came with it, they might see where our pain stems from as First Nations people, the loss of language, our culture and especially our people, then we can talk about reconciliation.”