Prefect, Shaun Donnelly ’17 discovered a passion for service and saw her CAS Project as an opportunity to make a difference for First Nations peoples of Niagara.
During the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, each student is required to complete a project that focuses on one of the CAS components – creativity, action or service. Students are encouraged to focus on one aspect and topic that they have a passion for. For Shaun, her ambition was serving and aiding First Nations peoples in our local community. After seeing the struggles and obstacles that this population has had to endure over the years, Shaun decided she wanted to be a part of the solution, not the problem.
“I wanted to provide some service to them; mainly because I’ve developed a passion for helping First Nations peoples as I’ve learned about their issues, past and present. So, I decided that I wanted to take this opportunity to make a difference.” – Shaun Donnelly ‘17
Shaun began with her research. She knew she needed to understand more about the First Nations before she would be able to begin formulating ideas and solutions to help those living in her community. Shaun explored the culture, while diving deeper into topics relating to healthcare.
Nearly a year later, Shaun was ready to put her research into action. She met with the Executives from Niagara’s three major hospitals, in hopes of shedding light on how healthcare practices align with First Nations culture. Shaun’s seminar was also attended by some of Niagara’s frontline healthcare workers, such as doctors, nurses and key stakeholders.
“The purpose of the seminar was to educate them on First Nations culture so that they could more appropriately treat their first Nations patients and be aware of any differences and preferences that the First Nations people might have because of their culture.” – Shaun Donnelly ’17
During the seminar, Shaun discussed First Nations peoples’ culture and their views on birth, death and natural healing. She also introduced First Nations customs into her seminar by creating and utilizing a Talking Stick – an item used during council meetings. The seminar lasted nearly three times longer than Shaun was intending, and the individuals in attendance were engaged and interested from start to finish.
Although her CAS project had reached its conclusion, Shaun intends to continue educating both herself and her peers. Since completing her project, she began a First Nations advocacy committee on campus – known as TRUE (truth, reconciliation, understanding and empathy) – that aims to raise awareness of First Nations culture and the struggles they are facing. While it is still a new club, they have generated a lot of interest from their fellow Ridleians.
“This was the first time where I actually did something to serve people when I didn’t have to, on such a large scale, so that was really rewarding. I learned to really appreciate the satisfaction serving others.” – Shaun Donnelly ’17
Shaun’s CAS project and global thinking led her to knowledge, understanding, appreciation and service. It is our hope that each student, on their search for answers, discovers something about the world that urges them to make a difference.