Sage Hartmann

June 29, 2022

McMaster University student graduates with accolades


Red River Métis McMaster graduate Sage Hartmann poses after her graduation ceremony.

With the school year winding down and summer just around the corner, graduation season is here, and Métis graduates are eager to cross the stage in their cap and gown. For the month of June, we're featuring Red River Métis graduates who've made a difference in their communities while excelling in their studies.

Sage Hartmann has been working hard over these past five years to make a name for herself at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The recent Métis graduate majored in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. She also received an interdisciplinary minor in Community Engagement and Indigenous Studies.

Although Hartmann completed a chunk of her studies in person, the pandemic affected her learning.

"I remember the day everything shut down so well. It was an adjustment, but (at the same time) it wasn't. I was lucky enough that I was able to move home with my family, and I have a good relationship with my family, so I was able to move into a space where I was supported," she said. "The professors and the courses that I had at the time were able to transition smoothly. Then, even in the following years, my fourth year and my fifth year, the courses I took and the professors I had were very understanding of the current situation and were very accommodating. It was a smooth transition."

Hartmann excelled in academics and found time to contribute back to the school. She served as a general member of McMaster's Cooperative of Indigenous Students Studies & Alumni and stepped into the director role during her fourth and fifth years.

"I've just had so much fun. I think this position has really been the way that I've found my voice and been able to channel all my frustrations and passions through this role into creating various educational campaigns, hosting guest speaker events, like the World Water Day conference, or connecting with various internal and external organizations, and other student clubs," she said. "Just being able to facilitate different kinds of dialogue with various organizations regarding how they can support and uplift Indigenous voices or integrate Indigenous perspectives within whatever kind of initiatives or work they're doing."

Hartmann was part of the Indigenous graduation ceremony that took place June 16.

She also held the title of Project Assistant to the Dean of the Faculty of Science and aided in retooling the department's strategic plan for 2020-2025, helping find gaps in Indigenous initiatives.

"With that role, I was able to take my experiences, the knowledge I had gained, the connections, and relationships that I had built through my other role, and bring all of that within my circles in the Faculty of Science," she said.

The graduate organized World Water Day celebrations at McMaster University and assembled a lineup of guest speakers like Ojibway Elder Wendy Phillips, who touched on Indigenous perspectives regarding water teaching. York University Professor Deborah McGregor spoke about water, traditional knowledge, and Indigenous legal order.

"I did it (organized the event) because I thought it was important, and I felt like I had an opportunity in the roles that I held to offer this kind of event. So, I was like, 'if I don't do it, who's going to do it?' It was something that I thought was important," Hartmann said. "Everything I do, I take with this mindset that I have a responsibility to share what I know and within the unique positions I have, to use those positions to uplift other Indigenous voices."

Hartmann walked across the podium on June 15, for the 2022 Spring Convocation, and on June 16, during the Indigenous graduation ceremony, to receive her honours. During the ceremony, Hartmann was also presented with accolades.

"At Convocation, I got awarded the President's Award of Student Excellence, which is basically this medal I get at Convocation," she said. "One student per faculty is nominated and selected for this award."

Now that Hartmann's tenure at McMaster has wrapped up, she plans to attend Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto (a part of York University) in the fall to further her education.

"Ideally, I would like to keep doing what I'm doing. But then have some more power behind my name. That's kind of the plan with law school. I envision myself working with the community, whether that means helping to work with communities to translate Indigenous law with Canadian law, working as some sort of intermediary between the two when it comes to various legal battles," she said.

Her advice to future graduating Red River Métis students is to "stay deadly."

"Our existence on its own is resistance. So, just by existing, and just by continuing to embrace who we are, and (to) be vocal against the things that we see that are wrong," Hartmann said, "I think that is resistance on its own. Just forcing our ways and making space for ourselves."


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