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Alumni Feature: Joshua Saddleback

Chief’s Son Walks MANS Halls—Again

University graduate Joshua Saddleback enrolls his daughter in his alma mater


Joshua Saddleback is a well-known figure in the Maskwacis community. The son of Chief Vernon Saddleback of the Samson-Cree Nation and a recent graduate of MacEwan University’s Police Investigative program in Edmonton, he is also a MANS alumnus. He’s happy to be home, working with Maskwacis youth, and to have his daughter, Kiya, sitting in the same classrooms he did at MANS.

MANS was a smaller place when Joshua was a student. At the time, it only went up to grade 9, and there were only about 200 students enrolled. He describes his MANS experience as “really good” and credits the school with teaching him what Christianity is. “We had all kinds of students. The teachers there modeled the same patience and respect for all the kids. They showed nothing but genuine care.”

Joshua’s transition from MANS to a 1,200-person high school was a culture shock. Leaving Maskwacis for a university with a student count of thousands was even more jarring. “But,” he says with a smile, “I pushed through the hard times and continued to show up to classes and try my absolute best.” 

Now, diploma in hand, Joshua applies his perseverance and positive attitude to his work in group care—work that’s deeply important to him. “I can’t get into too much detail, given confidentiality,” he says. “All I can say is I work with all kinds of youth. Specifically, with kids within our community.”

Did his time at MANS help prepare him for this role? His answer is a resounding “yes… I try to model the same patience and respect towards the kids I interact with in my workplace. In a way, MANS taught me to be there for the kids and to continue to show that genuine care.” 

Quality, genuine care is just one of the reasons Joshua decided to enroll his daughter at MANS. He is also excited about MANS’ high school and Miweyihtowin, the sculpture commission created by MANS high school students at the request of the city of Lacombe. The fact that the sculpture is connected to university grounds is particularly impactful for him. But perhaps the biggest surprise of his return was seeing so many familiar faces.

“It adds a level of comfort knowing that [Kiya’s] going to get the same positive experience that I had,” he says. “I love that most of the teachers I had when I went there, she will have too. I know that she’s going to enjoy it. She already is.”