What's it Mean to You?

What's it Mean to You?

I want to be the first one in my family to finish school. I want to see how far I can go.

Shaneek, MANS Class of 2020, Honor Student since 2013


"I love school!" says Shaneek. "Some people call me 'Strange' because I like math."

Not her teachers. In fact, her math and other teachers keep Shaneek supplied with text-books a year or two beyond her grade, and Shaneek works on them after she finishes her class assignment—usually in no time flat.

Beyond having an aptitude for it, Shaneek loves math because it reminds her of her father, who was also good at math but passed away when Shaneek was 8. "It brings me closer to him and makes me happy," she says dreamily. And she's got lots to be happy about besides math: with near-perfect daily attendance, Shaneek's on top of her academics, an athlete, a competitive Shawl Fancy Dancer, and she's with people she considers "family" every day at school.   

The family aspect of MANS—being safe, belonging, and valued in an often-harsh world—is so important that Shaneek left what many would consider a great opportunity to attend a big First Nations school in the city last year. On her own initiative, she got herself back "home" and hasn't regretted it one bit. "It's calm and organized and very friendly—warm like a family."

"I want to go to university and study for a government job to help aboriginals," she says with anticipation. Shaneek beams at the thought of the new MANS high school high school campus. She knows that finishing high school at MANS will be her bridge to further education and living her dreams—something to embrace the future about. 

I think my life would be very different if I'd gone to public school.

Krista Abt, MANS Class of 2017, Maskwacis Community Youth Role Model


Krista started her academic career at MANS' stimulating Grade 1 classroom. She graduated as part of the class of 2017, recognized by Maskwacis as a Youth Role Model. 

Krista's one of the 39% of Canada's First Nations youth who finish high school. What's more, while in high school, Krista created and sold beautiful beadwork earrings and medallions, tasted sea water and crossed the Rockies with her classmates on the way to Port Hardy, BC, and dreamed of a bright future—all while holding down an after school job as supervisor at Pizza Hut.

Looking back, Krista is proud of how she juggled academics and increasing responsibility at her work. Krista's positive experience with her teachers made a big impression on her and influenced her career goals. "All the teachers I had since Grade 1 were really good." Now a student at Red Deer College, Krista looks forward to becoming a teacher or counselor, because she knows first hand the difference they can make.