Alumni Corner: Featuring Kenthen Thomas

Kenthen Thomas, B.Ed., Secwepemc’ulucw

Please tell us about yourself.

Weytk, my name is Kenthen Thomas from the Secwepemc’ulucw (spread out people of the Shuswap). My kye7e’s and Sle7e’s are Dr. Mary Thomas, Mark Thomas, Herbie and Vera Johnny. I am of Secwepemc and Syilx descent. My father and mother are Phyllis and Gerry Thomas. I have a beautiful son and his name is Susep Soulle.

From which program did you graduate? 

I graduated with a Bachelor of Education Degree from the Indigenous Teacher Education Program (NITEP) at the University of British Columbia.

What stood out for you as an Indigenous student in the Faculty of Education?

As an Indigenous student in the Faculty of Education what stood out for me was my cohort. I was in the ABC cohort or Arts-based cohort, and the friends and colleagues that I have made here will be lifelong. As we grew as a cohort, we listened to each other’s stories and examined our own deficiencies, lack of understanding and challenged our own privileges. We grew not only as a cohort, but as individuals by just listening to each other with respect. We supported one another through some very tough times and while I gave as much as I could to the group, I collected more than my fair share of tools for not only my teaching career, but for my life.

How/What are you applying from your education experiences here at UBC to living and learning?

I think the biggest tool that I am utilizing is the aspect of inquiry. I want my students to challenge everything in their life and to not accept everything just because someone has told them to. I would hope that I can inspire some students to become independent thinkers – free of any preconceived ideology, ideas or notions; to create a space of autonomy for themselves where they can contest and experiment with others ideas and thoughts. My hope is that they have the tools to then come to terms with their own thoughts about their world. Of course, this would be done with the utmost respect for themselves, others and the process.

What words of encouragement do you have for upcoming Indigenous students in education?

The best words of encouragement I could possibly give to other Indigenous students, both now and the future, would be to walk and talk in the best way possible. Be respectful of themselves and others and do not be too hard on yourselves. One thing I took notice of while at UBC was how hard some students are on themselves, constantly critiquing themselves and their work. We are in an age where it’s so easy to compare ourselves to others via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We see what someone else is up to and then we compare ourselves immediately. Try your best to guide your thoughts towards self-acceptance. Use the sweat lodge at the FNHL, smudge and pray. Ensure you take care of yourselves in every aspect. Rest when needed, eat well, get ahead in your studies, and above all else, have fun. Make sure you take care of all the details before they pile up. This will ensure that for the most part, you will be relatively stress-free. One last last thing is to know that while your first year of actual work in your own classroom will be super busy and full of stress, so take in as much as you can from your cohort, instructors and practicum and just have fun.