Johnny Oum

Johnny Oum

Johnny Oum was born and raised in Edmonton, but his family tree has branches in Cambodia and roots with Coast Salish ancestors from British Columbia. After graduating high school, Johnny attended the University of Alberta where he studied Urban and Regional Planning with a focus on Indigenous Community Planning. He says that’s where his passions shifted.

“After working with rural, northern, and remote Indigenous communities, I found a passion for the culture and vibrancies of these communities,” says Johnny. “I had connected so deeply with the culture, and the people who call me their Indigenous Brother, that I knew a program in Indigenous Studies was for me!”

The Indigenous Studies program at NorQuest College quickly caught his eye. Even at the young age of 22, Johnny is already thinking about his future after he receives his Indigenous Studies diploma.

“I decided to take Indigenous Studies at NorQuest because I believe that this is such an important education to have,” he says. “Not only will it further my knowledge on my own personal histories, but it will allow me to carry on the histories that my people went through. I want to be that midpoint where we can shift from years of colonialism and oppression, to reconciliation for our future generations and youth.”

The college’s Indigenous Studies curriculum—developed in partnership with members of NorQuest’s Indigenous Relations & Supports team, Program Development, and the Faculty of Health and Community Studies—is everything that Johnny was looking for. “I'm super excited to be in a program that educates on the histories and the perspectives of fellow Indigenous peoples,” he says with enthusiasm. “I truly stand by what NorQuest stands for in the inclusivity and diversity of the college; I really think that this will nurture me throughout my education.”

Johnny says he has a lot to look forward to in the Indigenous Studies program; indeed, it’s a robust curriculum filled with Indigenous-focused courses, from art to business to climate change.

“I'm excited, as there will be courses that involve circle sharing, being out on the land, and an optional experiential learning opportunity in my final year! Lastly, I am excited to meet fellow change makers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike who strive to better the future in such an important field.”

Johnny has drawn a road map for his near future, and has exciting long-term plans. Upon completing his diploma, he’s hoping to enter the field of Indigenous Community Administration, Liaising, Government Administration, and the Non-Profit Sector. “I also hope to raise awareness and to be an advocate on important issues, such as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Truth and Reconciliation, and cultural and youth empowerment.”

Johnny’s enthusiasm will no doubt ensure his success. He’s also got a more personal reason for looking forward to attending NorQuest.

“My parents went to NorQuest College, which makes my journey here even more meaningful. They took ESL back in the 90s. I am extremely excited to be the second generation in my family to join the NorQuest family, and I hope I can become active and involved within my community!”