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HWW: Santanna Hernandez

Building communities, allies, and partnerships is an important part of post-secondary and life generally. We welcome you to get to know the members of our Selkirk College community!

Santanna Hernandez, Chairperson of Selkirk College Students’ Union, Student of Social Work with an Indigenous Specialization

Why did you decide to join the students’ union?

Back in 2014 the Liberal government cut funding to adult basic education. For me this was so frustrating because I know I wouldn’t be here today without free access to adult basic education. At the time I did not know what to do about that frustration. Shortly after I started classes on the castlegar campus where the SCSU was running the campaign “Dont close the doors”, from then I was hooked. I found the place I was meant to be.

Why is a post-secondary education important to you?

Growing up as an Indigenous student, I was never really told post secondary was where I should be, or could be. Once I had my own children I knew I never wanted them to feel that way. I also knew that I wanted to provide them with ever opportunity to succeed. In order to be more secure financially I needed a better career path, which meant I needed that post secondary education. I always was fascinated with the medical industry so I knew post secondary would be a long journey and that I needed to learn to love the gifts it could give me.

If there is one thing you could change about academia, what would it be?

To me there is two changes that would need to happen together. The first being that post secondary should be free so it is accessible to all, but with that being said some huge systemic changes need to happen for marginalized groups to feel safe in this environment. As someone who was often the only Indigenous student in the room, there has always been a different expectation of me as a student. Either my sole purpose felt as though I was there to help educate non-indigenous people, or it seemed as though I was graded differently because a certain level of vulnerability was expected for me to seem genuine. This could be true of all minority groups in post secondary. Systemic change is a hard thing to achieve but is very necessary to allow academia to be accessible for anyone who wishes to strive for it.

What is your favourite thing about the Kootenay region?

My favourite thing about the Kootenay Region is the quality family life I have here. I’m minutes away from amazing camping and boating. My kids are able to grow up near their grandparents. We have a beautiful community who cares about one another in the best ways possible.