Mattagami First Nation
Where did you grow up?
Sundridge, Ontario. Population 700
What were some of the challenges you faced growing up?
I was the only Aboriginal student in my class. I found out when I was 5 that I was adopted. My adopted family was non-Aboriginal. Later in life I learned I was a part of the 60’s scoop. A government initiated process of removing Aboriginal children from their families and adopting them into non-Aboriginal families
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I loved hockey and so I dreamed of starring in the NHL!
When did you start thinking about attending post-secondary?
What were some of the reasons you decided to further your education?
I decided to pursue a career in outdoor education
Write a Brief Timeline of Your Schooling Experience
Graduated with a Recreation Management Diploma
Completed a 95 day Wilderness Instructors Course with the Colorado Outward Bound School. This course included four sections: mountaineering, white water rafting, rock climbing and canyoneering at locations throughout the southwest of the USA.
Share our Experience of Finding Funding
Even though I grew up off the reserve and in an adopted family, I applied for my Native Status card when I was 21. My reserve, the Mattagami First Nation has been very supportive to me in pursuing my post secondary academics. They also assisted me in attending the Colorado Outward Bound School.
Share a Time When You Wanted to Quit
I enjoy pushing myself through outdoor adventure based pursuits, especially rock climbing. There are many times climbing where the mind is telling you to quit because the climb is too hard. I enjoy this moment of challenge as I know it is an opportunity to breakthrough this mental barrier.
Share Your Proudest Moment
Being involved in raising my two daughters as much as possible. I was very proud this past June to witness my oldest daughter graduate high school
Where are you currently in respect to your education?
I currently hold a diploma from College; however, I have just enrolled into University to acquire a degree. My mom received her Master’s at 52 and so I’m now 48 and it’s my turn to go back to school!
What did you do after you graduated your first degree?
After College, I spent the first few years guiding wilderness canoe trips in Northern Ontario. I have spent the majority of my career working with children and youth, facilitating outdoor adventure based education.
What has been your most important lesson returning to school?
School doesn’t end when you are young. It’s a lifelong pursuit of learning and acquiring knowledge
What advice do you have to offer other Indigenous students?
Stay true to your vision of what you want to make with your life. Make each day an opportunity to take a step towards it.
What are your goals for the future?
I want to continue my work on creating a lasting and positive Aboriginal cultural presence in the TriCity region.
Beyond the Blog
Visit the Indigenous Student Centre to find resources to assist Indigenous students.