Business graduate student invited to speak at United Nations Conference

By Costa Maragos Posted: March 15, 2018 7:00 a.m.

Patricia Thomson says it is a humbling experience speaking at a United Nations event.
Patricia Thomson says it is a humbling experience speaking at a United Nations event. Photo courtesy of Eileen Alma

Patricia Thomson has found an influential audience with which to share her story.

That audience just happens to be in New York where thousands of people from around the world are attending the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Thomson, who is Executive Director of the Cowessess First Nation and a Vice-Chair of Sask Gaming, is earning her Master of Administration in Leadership at the U of R’s Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business.

She’s a member of the Carry the Kettle Nakota Band in Saskatchewan.

The conference, themed “achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,” started March 12, 2018.

Patricia Thomson
Patricia Thomson and Kendra Strong-Garcia (B.Ed '03), Senior Director of Programs at Regina's YWCA, spoke at a United Nations panel in New York on Indigenous women’s resilience and experiences. Photo courtesy of Eileen Alma

Thomson participated in a panel relating to Indigenous women’s resilience and experiences.

“It’s a humbling experience to be a part of this,” says Thomson who will graduate at the Spring 2018 convocation.

Thomson spoke alongside Kendra Strong-Garcia (B.Ed ’03) Senior Director of Programs at Regina’s YWCA and Andrea Curley of the Onondaga Nation, located south of Syracuse, NY.  

“We each had seven minutes to speak, with time allowed for questions and answers,” says Thomson.

“My talk shared how my cultural upbringing gave me the foundation I needed to overcome challenges in life and achieve leadership positions in the community.”

Thomson credits her connection to her culture and her family support for much of her success.

As the result of a practicum experience at a women's leadership program at and subsequent support from the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University, Thomson and Strong-Garcia were invited to speak at the UN conference.

Thomson has an extensive background in the management and delivery of First Nations programs, with a focus on health care.

She earned a registered nursing diploma from the Saskatchewan Institute of Arts and Science in 1989 and a Certificate in Community Services in Addiction from the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies.

Her jobs have included Aboriginal Health Consultant for the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, Director of Operations for the Yorkton Tribal Council, and Director of Health Services for the Standing Buffalo Dakota Band. She has served on numerous boards locally and nationally.

Thomson faced a difficult personal challenge about two years ago following the death of her husband.

She decided to return to University and chose the Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business

“It was a tough couple of years so I focused on something positive to walk that journey. I was drawn to the school because of the environment. I knew it was the right place after my first class,” says Thomson. “Faculty and staff are all-embracing. If I have questions or need support there is always somebody available to help.”

Thomson says she is attending as many talks as she can while at the UN conference.

“It is amazing to listen to the stories of Indigenous women from different parts of the world. I feel connected to them; we have so much in common,” says Thomson.

The Conference runs until March 23, 2018.