Michael Lickers

I am a Mohawk from the Six Nations in Ontario. I grew up in Europe because my dad was in the army. So we were educated over there and then came back to Canada when I was going into Grade 10. It was an eye opener more than we expected due to the open racism.

In Europe, we were well respected as Canadians and as Aboriginal people as well. I don’t ever remember seeing a person’s colour until I came back to this country. The first couple of years in high school here were pretty challenging. I was blessed with an education in Europe which was more experiential.

Royal Roads’ history is one I appreciate since I served in the military (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada). Even though RRU was no longer a military college when I arrived, it was comfortable, like going back to my old high school.

I was delivering Aboriginal awareness training across Canada, training and teaching overseas. I was teaching at Pearson College every summer, and I would drive by the RRU campus all the time. The MALT (Master of Arts in Leadership) program gave me some very useful tools that I employ to this day when I teach around the world or with companies and non-profit groups in Alberta.

My time at RRU was a unique educational experience where the professors did more coaching and mentoring than teaching. I was used to teachers imparting knowledge. Royal Roads instructors did a fantastic job of letting us to find our own answers. You can go to a traditional university and be stuck in a classroom and have to regurgitate information, or you can go to a place like Royal Roads and actively search for and be a part of your own learning. I use what I learned in my own teaching at University of Calgary.

I tell my students, I’m not going to necessarily tell you the answer, but I will encourage you to find out.

The blended format allows students to study while handling a busy work schedule. I had 18 years of experience running an outdoor education program in Calgary with an international focus. When I was completing the second year of my MALT program, I was writing some of my thesis in Finland, Bolivia and Guyana where I was checking on interns working with Indigenous communities. My primary research focused on urban Aboriginal leadership.

My fondest memory of MALT was spending time with members of my cohort. There were five of us who had a strong bond, and we stay connected today. Going through the MALT program was a great process and opened many doors.

After attending an RRU alumni event in Calgary, I realized I wanted to continue studying, and began the process of my Doctor of Social Sciences degree in 2012.

At Royal Roads, everyone from the program people right through to the administrative people has been fantastic and open to help. 

Michael Lickers is a Senior Advisor of Aboriginal Community Development at Suncor Energy. He founded Ghost River Rediscovery Society, a cultural outdoor education and leadership program based in Alberta. He holds a Master of Arts in Leadership and Training degree from Royal Roads and is currently completing his Doctorate in Social Sciences, also at Royal Roads University.

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