Photography: supplied

Building a community beyond the walls of Edwards

Mikaila Ortynsky

Create your own opportunity; it’s a common theme among students at the Edwards School of Business (Edwards). Throughout the school’s history, student clubs have begun and evolved. In recent years, special interest groups have emerged while other groups are making new connections in the community.


Supporting and including Indigenous students has been a passion for Aubrey-Anne Pewapisconias-Laliberte (B.Comm.'21). Now in her third year, Pewapisconias-Laliberte has put her passion to work. In October 2018, Pewapisconias-Laliberte and classmate, Jessica Mirasty (B.Comm.'22) formed the Indigenous Business Students’ Society (IBSS). The group has grown to well over 30 students since its most recent inception. In previous years Indigenous student groups have lapsed in activity, but the group is determined to have longevity.

Edwards IBSS

We want students to feel included and that there is a support system behind them to help them through this degree because it is a hard degree,” said Pewapisconias-Laliberte.

Collaboration is key to the success and growth of the IBSS. With the transfer agreement between Edwards and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), Edwards has a growing number of Indigenous students enrolling. The new student group aims to act as a bridge between the two institutions with the inclusion of students from both schools for club activities and events.

“When we were first starting up, we wanted to be a student society that included SIIT students whether they plan to come over to Edwards or not,” remarked Pewapisconias-Laliberte. “[SIIT students] know that there is a group in business that can always help and make connections in the school.”

For both college-level and university-level Indigenous student organizations, increasing engagement amongst students is a priority. In the beginning months of the IBSS, the group worked closely with the USask Indigenous Students’ Council (ISC) to formulate sustainable Indigenous governance for the Edwards group.

“I saw the president of the ISC create Indigenous student initiatives with the university; I wanted to do the same but within my college,” recalled Pewapisconias-Laliberte. “The partnership with them is really important. They are a support system for us.”

Notably, the group hosted a networking gala at the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Centre with representation from industry, government, and university. Over 50 Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from SIIT and several different colleges at USask attended the inaugural event.

“[The gala] was a huge highlight, and we succeeded because of our teamwork,” said Pewapisconias-Laliberte. “We had more interest than we had tables and are planning to make this year’s better.”

Bringing a community together was also the highlight of the recent year for the USask chapter of Young Women in Business (YWiB). For International Women’s day, the group hosted a sold-out brunch with community members of Saskatoon.

Embracing diversity

Since forming in 2016-17, YWiB has grown exponentially year-over-year. The group won the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union Vera Pezer Campus Group of the Year Award for the 2018-19 school year. Whether it is events like speed networking and leadership seminars, YWiB has become the group women (and men) look to for impactful events.

YWIB Executive

“The goal [of YWiB] is to connect and empower female leaders of tomorrow and help them get the tools to create their own success,” said incoming 2019-20 YWiB president Lucia Veliz (B. Comm.'21).

The group has evolved beyond being a group for young, aspiring businesswomen. With women from colleges like computer science, education, nursing, and psychology gaining interest in their events, YWiB sees more diversity in its attendees. Outgoing YWiB president, Jenna Kachur (B. Comm.'20), remarked that many students would be involved in business someway in the workplace.

Many event attendees have the ‘ah-ha’ moment when working on their skills, like networking, and realize that soft skills are important to getting a job or finding a mentor.

Beyond events, the club has also become gender diverse. In 2017-18 the chapter welcomed a man to the executive membership.

“I think focusing on empowering everyone—both men and women,” said Veliz. “Men are central to keep in the loop because to get that equality and to get those tools out of there, you have to provide opportunities to everyone to educate both men and women in providing equality and opportunities.”

Both Veliz and Kachur also added that support from industry has been key to the organization’s success. The wide array of supporters include industries like accounting, technology, and wellness.

Through events, young businesswomen (and men) have made connections to help jumpstart their careers.

Making connections

A conversation over coffee was all that was needed for a new collaborative event to start up between the Edwards Marketing Student Society (MSS), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), and the Saskatchewan Professional Marketing Association (SPMA).

The trio of groups created an event that brought marketing professionals and students together in a comfortable atmosphere. “Are You Smarter than a Marketing Professional,” a trivia night, saw over 40 attendees. Students were able to get one-on-one time with professionals and test their marketing knowledge.
With both professional organizations having a mandate to connect with students, both IABC and SPMA found value in the event.

“On the professional side, I think it’s really great to connect with students,” remarked IABC president, Ben Borne. “We can learn a lot from the next generation of professionals.”

IABC previously had limited student involvement in their organization and was inspired to collaborate after a conversation with former MSS President, Michelle Day.

“We wanted to attract students to get them involved and help them develop their career,” said Borne. “When Michelle mentioned Trivia night, I was sold.”

In the spirit of collaboration, both Saskatoon-based associations joined forces to bring marketing professionals to the event, in addition to a few Edwards marketing professors. With both organizations being membership-driven, having more ways to connect and grow their network benefited both groups.

“A great mix of industry and students came out,” remarked SPMA president, Amber Johnson (B.Comm.'11). "Both organizations found it valuable to get in front of the students in that way versus the traditional mixers.”

Building on past success

Edwards HRSS Executive

The Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Saskatchewan (CPHR) and Human Resources Student Society at Edwards (HRSS) have had a short but eventful history. While the CPHR (previously Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals) has been involved in the school for decades, their relationship with HR students has grown.

“The association clearly sees the students as the future of HR,” remarked Charmaine Wintermute (B.Comm.'99), CPHR Learning and Member Relations Manager. “We’d be naïve to think that we’d be practicing HR forever.”

The two organizations hosted the first annual HR Faculty/Student Reception. Approximately 40 representatives attended the first annual reception. This event was a way to gather students, faculty, and industry members.
“The HRSS and CPHR relationship has truly grown in the last few years,” said incoming HRSS president, Laura Chartier. “We are thankful for the opportunities CPHR SK has presented us and the relationships we’ve made with industry members.”

The future is bright for Edwards students, as these relationships will continue to evolve. Stronger collaborations with industry will benefit both students and employers in gaining hands-on experience and a network of mentors to elevate their careers.

Clubs at Edwards
Then: 1984–85
Accounting Club
B.Calm Society
Finance Club
Industrial Relations Club
Marketing Club
Saskatoon Commerce Student Society

Now: 2019–20
Accounting Club of Edwards
Edwards Business Students’ Society
Enactus University of Saskatchewan
Finance Students’ Society
Human Resources Students’ Society
Indigenous Business Students’ Society
JDC West
Management Students’ Association
Marketing Students’ Society
Operations Management Students’ Association
Young Women in Business

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