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Cherish Jean-Baptiste CA'03 (SIFC), CCE'03 (SIFC), BAdmin'06 (FNUC) - Outstanding Young Alumni Award

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At only 32 years of age, Cherish Jean-Baptiste is already thriving in the public sector economic realm, and enriching her community in countless waysJean-Baptiste (nee Deegan) graduated from First Nations University of Canada in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on marketing. She now works as a business consultant for Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) and is the president of the First Nations and Métis Fund (FNMF) and First Nations Business Development Program (FNBDP).

”Aboriginal enterprise is growing,” she says. “Aboriginal businesses are diverse and span industry sectors and markets. In Saskatchewan, the projection is that by 2045, 32 per cent of the province’s population will be of Aboriginal descent. This is a good indicator that Saskatchewan and Canada will continue to experience growth in Aboriginal business participation rates in the economy. There is definitely still more work that needs to be done to bridge the gap towards full participation of Aboriginal business in the provincial economy but I believe with good business cases, accessible financing and strong, willing partners, that it’s achievable.”

Jean-Baptiste points to her mother, Denita Deegan, as the person who more than any other, instilled in her the traits that would see her succeed at an early age.

“My greatest mentor has always been my mother,” she says. “She was a part of the "sixties scoop" during the residential school era and attended the Qu'Appelle Indian Residential School in Lebret, Saskatchewan from the age of 5 to 15 years old. Being raised by a single mother helped me understand those struggles at an early age and I had an appreciation of them when I became a single mother mid-way through my degree program. Without the support of my mother, I would not have graduated. Her courage, resiliency and pure strength inspire me to this day.”

Jean-Baptiste is also involved in many purposeful community-building ventures. She sits on various boards and committees including the Mosaic First Nations Pavilion, CIC’s United Way Committee, First Nations University of Canada Alumni Association and Regina Aboriginal Professionals Association.
Jean-Batiste is delighted to be able to give back and relishes her role as mentor to young Aboriginals.

“My advice to Aboriginal youth is to never give up on your dreams and to keep pushing forward,” she says. “You may have to change your location, your lifestyle and even your circle of friends but it is important to surround yourself with people who are positive influences in your life, who challenge you to do better but also encourage you when you feel like giving up.”

Receiving the 2015 Crowning Achievement Outstanding Young Alumni Award is an honour for Jean-Baptiste, one she intends to share with her family, colleagues and the mentors who continue to inspire her with passion for their careers and communities. She also feels privileged to be in the company of the other 2015 Crowning Achievement recipients.

“Seeing the achievements of the other recipients is a good reminder that I still have a lot of work to do. I am truly honoured to be in the company of the other 2015 Crowning Alumni Achievement Award recipients.”

 

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