Thursday, September 18, 2014
Text Size

First Nation woman earns doctorate after battle with brain tumour

Sarah Pash from northern Quebec graduates from Lakehead University after golf ball-sized tumour removed

By Jaime Little, Christopher Herodier, CBC News

Sarah Pash is not a quitter, but a few years ago she came close to giving up.

Pash started her doctoral program nine years ago, specializing in First Nations education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont.

But in her fifth year, unexplained chronic pain — and the medication she was taking for it — made her unable to concentrate on her studies. She had to drop her courses.

For someone who describes herself as "very independent," it was hard to let go.

"It was a real moment of surrender to what was going on in my life," she said. "I had no control over my illness or the way it was affecting me."

"I have a hard time asking for help…. But at that moment I realized I can't do this alone," Pash said, her voice cracking with emotion. "I can't get through any of this alone."

That was a turning point for Pash, who is from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi in northern Quebec.

"We don't realize how much support there is around us and how much love is around us, and I think all we have to do is allow ourselves to accept it and depend on it," she said.

"When we are able do that, we realize that we can get through anything, no matter what.”

And that's what she did.

About a year and a half ago, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour about the size of a golf ball. As scary as that was for her and for her family, Sarah Pash said it was also a relief to finally know what had been causing her unbearable pain.

In January of this year, Pash re-registered for her PhD program and dusted off her dissertation.

"I was able to get ready for my final exam and did my final draft of my dissertation, and got ready for graduation, and that was it," she said.

Her father, Steven Pash, said perseverance has always been a big part of his daughter's personality, as is sharing her love of life with everyone around her.

He said the Cree community pulled together to support his daughter through her illness, with people of all faiths — both traditional Cree spirituality and Christian denominations — praying for her.

"She always shared her love with her family and friends and everyone, and that's what has carried her so far," he said.

Sarah Pash graduated with her Doctorate of Philosophy on May 31 in Thunder Bay. She currently lives with her husband and four children in Oujé-Bougoumou.

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...


obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit


First Nations Cultural Interpreter PM – 02 Riding Mountain National Park Seasonal Indeterminate

(May to October) From $54,543 to $58,764

Closing Sept. 19, 2014

Read More

Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON


Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014


September 2014
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday


Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins