A modern day warrior

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March 10, 2020
Danny Bruno’s Lakeland College experience inspires him to make a difference every day.
As a carpentry instructor for The Indigenous Offender Employment Project at the Pê Sâkâstêw Centre, a minimum-security correctional facility, in Mâskwâcîs, Alta. (90 kilometres south of Edmonton), Bruno is equipping ‘adult learners’ with usable skills to transition from incarceration to the working world.
“In six weeks, I teach them a pre-employment carpentry course. It’s so easy for me to teach because it’s similar to what I learned in my first- and second-year modules at Lakeland. I’m able to use my Lakeland experience and education to help others better their lives,” says the journeyman, who completed his carpentry periods from 2015-2018 at Lakeland’s Vermilion campus.
As he mastered woodcraft and other valuable carpentry skills, Bruno says he treasures the lessons he learned from his Lakeland instructors, whom he continues to seek mentorship from today.
“My instructor Trevor (Provick) saw a lot of potential in me. He taught me that it's okay to fail as long as I fail forward. I learned that mistakes happen, I won’t ace every exam, and I’m not going to have every day go my way, because there's always something going on outside of school. I need to keep trying and persisting.”
As a student, Bruno describes himself as a struggling learner, who would stay after class to catch up on assignments and seek additional support. Bruno says his Lakeland instructors took the time to understand which kind of learning technique would best suit him.
“I had a tendency of not showing my work, just skipping to the results. Then, my instructor Curtis Cassibo said if he looked in my car, he might find a mess. He helped me understand that I live with not being organized in various areas of my life. I started to take control of that by being accountable. I realized why I have to show my work so that I can catch where I went wrong and steer myself to the right path. From that point on, I would stay late after class and study. I'd reread each module, so I would have it all memorized for my exams.” All of his hard work paid off when Bruno received the Cam Macfarlane award for outstanding achievement.
Beyond the academic relationships with his instructors, Bruno says he appreciates the compassion he received when he had two family members pass away during his time at Lakeland. He recalls John Wilkinson pulling him aside, seeing him in tears, and encouraging him to take time off if he needed it.
It’s these Lakeland experiences that not only have Bruno keep in touch with his instructors but inspires him to stay in this line of work.
“They helped me develop my lesson plans, provided me with project ideas, and so much more. They also care about everything I'm doing. There are times during my 50-minute work commute, Trevor Provick and I will chat over the phone about my workday. He also keeps me updated on the (N.B.C) national building code and if there are changes in the program modules. He's like my secret weapon,” Bruno shares.
Throughout his technical training at Lakeland, Bruno says working for his previous employer made him overcome prejudices about his Indigenous heritage. He says he realized he needed to find an employer that saw his potential and appreciated his skills. Now, working at Pê Sâkâstêw Healing Lodge, Bruno says the confidence Lakeland gave him and the hard work he put in is finally paying off.
“It's a life-changing experience for me to see the men I teach take what they learn, put the work in, and then transition into the working world. It’s special when they call me to tell me that they found a job as well,” Bruno says.
Bruno adds that working at the Healing Lodge has allowed him to keep up with his culture, as he is able to participate in ceremonial sweats, smudges, and Powwows routinely, as it is encouraged at his workplace. He also volunteers his time and carpentry talents to Samson First Nation in Maskwacis, fixing major housing problems.
“There have been times where I have felt like I’m consistently doing warranty work, but working at the men’s prison, I feel like I can show the value of what it means to be a strong Indigenous man who provides for his household, which means being a modern-day warrior. I can lead by example, as words carry very little weight. Most importantly what I learned from pursuing my dream at Lakeland College is that it’s my responsibility to use my skills towards helping others in need.”
Photo: Danny Bruno with his dog, Captain, who he saved from the reservation.

What Students Say
With the Student-Managed Farm you learn to be accountable for what you’re doing and the choices you make. You get an understanding of what it’s like to be out in industry or on a farm making decisions that count.

– Anthony Biglieni

Agribusiness Class of 2006

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College has been a integral partner in growing our own through the school of business. As an alumnus of the college, I have first-hand learning experience in the school of business. The professors welcome Servus Credit Union to facilitate classes in the Business Ethics course each year.

– Sandi Unruh

Senior Human Resources Consultant

What Faculty & Staff Say
Vertex has had great experience bringing on students from Lakeland College. We have found the Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Management) program to provide students with good academic knowledge of the environmental industry and the criteria that governs the land reclamation

– Sean Fuller B.Sc., P.Ag.

Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

What Alumni Say
There is no way I would be where I am today without Lakeland College. It inspired me to be a better person and to get a job in something I love doing. I am so thankful I had such a great experience at Lakeland and I hope future students do as well.

– Danielle Gaboury

Business studies, Class of 2016.

What Students Say
I recommend the UT program to people all the time. The smaller setting Lakeland offers, is very conducive to learning. It's less intimidating than the larger universities and allows for more class interactions and discussions

– Kelly Mykytuk

2nd year UT student, 2017-18

What Alumni Say
Choosing to attend Lakeland College was one of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life so far. The welcoming and friendly Lakeland environment encourages a place of excellence, and fosters the ability to be successful not only in school, but in life.

– Mariah Van’t Hof

University Transfer, Class of 2015

What Alumni Say
I have loved my experience at Lakeland. The teachers are personable, and quick to share about their own experiences. They encouraged me to run with my own ideas and see what would happen; they got excited about my designs, which gave me the confidence to do my best and be more creative.

– Payton Ramstead

Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

What Alumni Say
At Lakeland College you are guaranteed to have time out of the classroom where you can put everything you learned together and actually see that what you’re learning is relevant.

– Alisa Brace

Animal Health Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The friendships I made, the experiences we were provided with, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Vermilion Campus made my time at Lakeland extremely valuable and memorable

– Grayden Kay

Animal Science & Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College was a learning environment unlike any other school. It allows students to learn beyond the classroom, and staff and faculty genuinely want to see students succeed. It’s a place where you can feel comfortable asking questions and where everyone has a place and fits in.

– Carson Reid

Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The instructors were the highlight of my time at Lakeland. It made a huge impact on my college experience to have instructors who challenged, encouraged, and believed in me.

– Jessica Cadrain

Child & Youth Care, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
At the beginning of my first year, I was really stressed out as I felt I had no artistic ability. But with the instruction and time put in by the interior design faculty, I was able to develop my artistic abilities. Now I am fully confident in and exceeding well in the artistic side of this career!

– Naomi Mason

Interior Design Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I just feel like you get the best education at Lakeland, especially from the time that the instructors can actually spend with you. I like the class sizes too – everything’s been great about my Lakeland experience.

– Dean Coulson

Heavy Equipment Technician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I do give Lakeland College credit for reigniting my interest and even preparing me for Miss Rodeo Canada. Lakeland helped me to grow enough to have the confidence to think I could take on that role and become that person. I think that I have and I am really grateful for that

– Ali Mullin

Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

What Alumni Say
I feel the professors at Lakeland actually prepared me for the profession. It’s impossible to be just a number here when there are 12 students in all of your classes. When the school advertised small class sizes, they actually meant it.

– Stephen Mark Visser

Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I was involved in the president’s gala in April where I was an emcee for the evening, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it and would recommend it to everyone.”

– Lucas Tetreault

HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I would recommend Lakeland College for the simple fact that it's for everybody. As a mature student who went back to school much later than his 18th year, I was immediately accepted, and not ostracized in the least

– Donald James Shaw

Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
All the hands-on learning was great and very helpful once placed into the industry. Having clients leave with a smile after each service assured me that I was in the right field of work. I would recommend Lakeland to anyone.

– Courtnee Coolidge

Esthetician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The professors care so much about their students at Lakeland and are able to know each and every one of them by name, so much so that they are able to nominate a ton of students for awards.

– Stephanie Wakefeild

University Transfer, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
They really put you in the lead at Lakeland. Lakeland cares about its students, empowers them, and gives them opportunities to achieve their goals. I don’t see Lakeland as a stepping stone or a first step – I see it as a bridge and an integral part of my education.

– Alyssa Wells

University Transfer, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I wanted to get experience in the field of assessment as it would give me exposure to what it’s like day to day. It was an invaluable experience as I find it hard to imagine what it would be like working in a particular field or area until I’m doing the work.

– Sheldon Farrell

Real estate appraisal and assessment, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
In the campus spa, they give you time to work with each client so nothing is rushed and you’re able to concentrate on providing the best service you can to your client.

– Daphney Couturier

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
It’s going to be a lot easier to start our first jobs having this experience and having been able to build our confidence in the campus spa. I love that we get to have this opportunity.

– Darby Watchel

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Employers Say
Lakeland is a great place to find employees. The college provides real world training that equips soon-to-be employees with knowledge and people skills that are highly sought after in the agriculture industry these days.

– Dustin Dinwoodie

Key Account Manager – Western Canada Arysta LifeScience

What Alumni Say
The hands-on field trips, quality of education i received, professors who are invested in your success, and all the friends I made. I exceeded my academic expectations and I also had a lot of fun. If i had to do it all over gain, i would choose Lakeland!

– Nicole (Audet) Pysh

Class of 2006, Environmental Protection & Class of 2008, Applied Environmental Degree