It takes courage to take a chance on yourself.
I grew up in the Timmins area which is a community still struggling to increase inclusivity for Aboriginal populations. As a result, I was not open about my Aboriginal ancestry growing up. It wasn’t until I moved away for post-secondary education that I found my voice as a Métis woman. I got involved at the Aboriginal Resource Centre available for undergraduate students at Wilfrid Laurier University and began receiving teaching from Elders.
Be better than you ever thought you can be.
When I graduated high school, my options were either to continue my studies or to find a job. I had to really buckle down to find out what I truly wanted in life. I chose to attend college first and then university and I have never regretted my choice. My success at college gave me the confidence to pursue a degree in First Nations Studies. Following graduation I plan on pursuing a Bachelor of Education so I can teach youth about Aboriginal peoples’ histories, cultures, and languages.
Despite the challenges, you can succeed.
When I was young, I felt that, like other children who are Aboriginal, I couldn’t succeed. There were signs all around me suggesting that Aboriginal people didn’t finish school or move on to postsecondary education. I will never forget early memories of travelling to school on the bus where my brothers and I faced extreme forms of racism and bullying. These experiences instilled in me a deep desire to succeed.
A degree speaks to the strength of
My parents have always wanted me to make every effort to get as far as I can in life. As a child I was expected to complete some sort of postsecondary education, whether it be college, university or an apprenticeship. I have now graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. Community was an integral part of my university experience and success – professors, staff, and recruiters all helped to get me where I am today. They gave me the support that I needed to push through everything, to keep my head up and my mind on track. This is why I’m currently working with Indigenous youth to get them interested in engineering.
Be a role model to
I have always tried to be a role model to my children in every way and encourage them to follow my footsteps. But it is time that my grandchildren take these steps and be the future of the new generation. It’s important for me that my children and grandchildren can live their dreams.
Success lies in
the willingness to welcome change.
My thirst for knowledge, which led me to apply to
university, has helped me to stare down my fear of change. I had always known that I wanted to pursue further education, but
I had no idea that I would eventually end up enrolling in a
graduate program and being passionate about a subject that
I hadn’t even known existed. My Master’s thesis focuses on investigating the midsole material of footwear to possibly increase older adults’ balance for those at risk of falling.
University has helped me believe in myself.
My childhood was extremely traumatic and school was a safe haven for me. I loved being there. It was a place where I could forget about my troubles and I loved learning new ideas. It was this love of learning and my dream of becoming all that I was meant to be that brought me back to education. Being a single mother, I knew that it was imperative that I be a positive role model for my son.
Pursue your passion in life and transform your future.
I didn’t have big aspirations in high school and it wasn’t until my third year of university when I met the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair that this really changed. He suggested that I pursue a Master’s degree. I suddenly saw my academic career differently and I applied to do a Master’s of Indigenous Relations program. I knew it was the right path for me. I am currently studying how Ontario’s health care system integrates important Aboriginal cultural practices into its protocols for care.
With each challenge I learn more about who I am and what I’m capable of.
At six years old I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) and by the time I reached high school, I realized that this diagnosis would prevent me from being a police officer – a career that I had dreamed about from a young age. I was also diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which created additional obstacles for me – I had to learn techniques to help myself focus, which often proved challenging in a school setting.
I have a chance to drive change and help my people.
There are always oppor-tunities to gain new skills and grow as a person.
I am currently studying Biological Science. Once I graduate, I’d like to attend medical school in my hometown of Ottawa.
I plan to use my medical degree to work with Health Canada on public policy issues in the area of First Nations health and wellness. Another one of my goals is to serve as a good role
model for my friends and family, and pursuing higher education has helped me to realize this objective.
We live our lives through our teachings.
You have the power to create the change you want to see.
When I arrived at university for the first time, I was challenged with learning how to live on my own, away from my family. But I found a new family and community among the friends that I met. The Aboriginal Student Centre on campus played a particularly big role in this. It was there that I began to understand the unique challenges Aboriginal peoples face, especially when it comes to pursuing postsecondary education.