Dylan Cyr-Yuzicappi has fond memories of his time at Mother Teresa Middle School (MTMS). He recalls the small class size, extended school days, and the summer program as components that made learning easier for him. “The experiential learning was important to me. They found out how I liked to learn, which made it easier to relate to the content,” said Cyr-Yuzicappi, who is from Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation. He is pursuing his Indigenous Education degree at the First Nations University of Canada and is currently completing his internship at Scott Collegiate.
Cyr-Yuzicappi credits the interactions with his MTMS teachers with showing him the difference he could make as an educator. “The teachers made the learning experience fun. They showed me the impact you could have as an educator,” said Cyr-Yuzicappi.
An Emphasis on Culture
Cyr-Yuzicappi was a student in the first class at MTMS. He said that the school’s focus on Indigenous culture helped him better understand his identity. “I discovered and realized I was missing out on knowledge that had been lost from the intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools. MTMS gave me the opportunity to learn and experience my culture more,” said Cyr-Yuzicappi.
Being more immersed in his culture also inspired him to pursue an Indigenous Education degree, which emphasizes First Nations content and processes in the classes. “MTMS inspired me to take Indigenous Education. I was interested in the more holistic educational approach,” said Cyr-Yuzicappi.
An Incredible Role Model
Someone who had a profound impact on Cyr-Yuzicappi growing up was Maurice Laprairie. Laprairie has been a volunteer at MTMS since taking a tour of the school when it first opened in 2011. “I was initially so impressed with the concept of the school being a proactive attempt to alter the course of young people’s lives. I knew I had to become involved and so I did,” said Laprairie. For twelve years running, Laprairie has graciously shared his talents in photography by taking, editing, printing, and framing student photos that are used for everything from report cards to framed portraits displayed throughout the school. He also played an integral role in establishing a bursary with his employer, MLT Aikins, which helps remove financial barriers for MTMS students in pursuit of their education. Through the continued generosity of MLT Aikins, the bursary has grown into a substantial sum and helps eliminate financial barriers to education for many MTMS alum like Cyr-Yuzicappi.
Laprairie first met Cyr-Yuzicappi when taking the first-year class photos. He later attended an MTMS student mentor night and was paired with Cyr-Yuzicappi. “I became his mentor and remain so to this day. I have watched him face several significant personal challenges in his life and have seen him grow into a confident and resilient young man that has an inner strength that shines through,” said Lapraire when asked about his mentorship to Cyr-Yuzicappi.
Cyr-Yuzicappi recalls Laprairie being there for him every step of the way, from attending his graduation to rugby tournaments to when he experienced personal loss. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Maurice being so awesome and caring. I consider Maurice someone who had a big impact on my life. He lead me in a positive direction and helped me strive to be better. He goes above and beyond for not just me but for the school,” said Cyr-Yuzicappi.
Laprairie is excited to see Cyr-Yuzicappi become a teacher and in the position of being a positive role model for youth. “I am proud that he will soon graduate from university and begin his teaching career. He is going to be a superb teacher and sports coach as well as an incredible role model,” said Laprairie.
Inspiring the Next Generation
I want to show youth in my community that they can make it. They can develop a path for success.” - Dylan Cyr-Yuzicappi.
Cyr-Yuzicappi is excited to see his long-time friend and fellow MTMS alum, Dray Cyr (no relation) pursue a career in education as well. “Dray is like a brother to me, he has been there for me through thick and thin. We were in the same class at MTMS, played sports together throughout high school, and are in the same post-secondary program. He is a lifelong friend,” said Cyr-Yuzicappi. He feels like they both can relate to many of the youth they will serve as educators. “Being from inner city Regina, I want to show youth in my community that they can make it. They can develop a path for success,” said Cyr-Yuzicappi.
When asked what advice he would provide to MTMS students who are just starting their educational journey, Cyr-Yuzicappi offered “don’t be afraid to seek discomfort. It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone but taking part in new experiences helps you grow.” He also noted the importance of attendance and being on time for your commitments. “The little things that you may not think matter at the time, turn out to be the things that help make you a better person and student,” he added.
Once he completes his degree and gains further experience teaching in the classroom, he intends to take his own advice of being open to growth. “I was thinking of going up north to the Yukon or Northwest Territories to teach for a bit. There is a big emphasis on culture up there and the opportunity to share my culture would be cool. Trying new experiences, I feel would benefit me as a person. It’s good to get out of the same routine to grow,” said Cyr-Yuzicappi.
Ultimately, he sees himself teaching in the city he grew up in. “I would like to then come back, share what I learned up north, and teach high school here (in Regina). MTMS is like my family, I made lifelong friends there. That is something I cherish and that I’m thankful for.”
If you have any questions about how you can support programs at Mother Teresa Middle School we would love to connect!
Evie Sawatzky | Director of Development
P: 306-569-6867 Ext. 4