ʔéx kʷ n̓. Hello.
My name is Miranda Stirling and I am a member of Swxexmx of the Nlaka’panmux Nation in Lower Nicola, BC. My journey has been an interesting one, that has led me to appreciate where and who I am today. I am a planner; an organizer and I like to have a plan at all times. But I did not always know where my path would lead; I was never able to see too far down the road. The hardest thing at times was letting go of that need to plan and just let it be. The goal has been to find a balance between planning and over planning in order to succeed and enjoy my life.
I grew up in the small town of Merritt BC and by the age of 14 I was on a self destructive path that was bound to lead me to nothing good. My parents decided to send me to N’kwala, the band school in Douglas Lake, B.C. In reflection, this move was the biggest life change I have had. The difference between being at a public school where I could blend in and get away with doing nothing compared to N’kwala, where I was held accountable not only in my schoolwork but as a leader in the school, was apparent immediately.
This is where my self-identity changed from wanting to just get by, to wanting to exceed and stand out. I learned about the deep roots of my culture and the connection I had to it. This is where I learned how to hunt a deer, skin it, smoke the hide and make moccasins from it. For 2 years it was an exploration of my culture. But while I was learning skills for the real world, other kids my age were learning skills to help them with higher education. This became instantly apparent when I returned to public school in grade 11. It felt like I missed the day that everyone learned everything. That I was ten steps behind and they were speaking another language. I would never have given up what I’d learned at N’kwala but in that moment I would have given anything for the answers. I worked hard to graduate, I still grew to associate school with feeling stupid; a feeling that stuck with me for a very long time.
Because of this feeling I had absolutely no desire for higher education. I spent years convincing myself and attempting to convince my family that working at Tim Hortons was life fulfilling. I became the manager there and thought I had made it big. My Mother on the other hand saw this promotion as the opportunity to push for me to go to business school. In the end she won—don’t they always? And 4 years after graduating high school I was enrolled at Langara College. My fear that I would feel stupid again, and behind everyone was diminished with each day I was there. I learned that the brilliant thing about college is everyone is at different levels. After I completed my diploma I went on to get my bachelors at Royal Roads University and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurial Management. This was a proud day for me, because it marked the day I finally shed that feeling of being stupid. I graduated with the confidence to do anything!
The first year out of University was an amazing year. I landed an office manager position at a start up software company, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and lived by the slogan, what you focus on expands. Then I decided to take a year off and go traveling—something that I would urge everyone to do. Nothing can push you more out of your comfort zone than travel. Upon returning to the real world I quickly landed a job as an administrative assistant at New Relationship Trust. It was temporary but after I started I knew this was the place I wanted to start my real career. It was hard to establish myself as anything other than the admin assistant. So I made it my mission to show I could do more, I did this by finding answers to every question asked—even when it was not asked directly to me. I soon received credit for work and became someone that people went to for answers. In my 3 years of being at New Relationship Trust I have held over 4 titles and am ambitious for more! I am currently the Capacity & Events Manager. This includes managing the Scholarships and Governance Direct Support projects as well as organizing events throughout the year. Our biggest events are an annual Golf Tournament to raise funds for Bursaries and the well known Young Entrepreneurs Symposium (YES). Each day I go to work I am challenged in a way that keeps me coming back for more.
All of these things combined provide me a great sense of accomplishment, and pride for our People. Every day I get to read or see the most amazing success stories, of how our people finally believe in themselves. People say the Youth are the future? I believe with the amount of scholarship applications we receive and the Youth I see at YES, that the future is in strong dedicated hands.
Kʷukʷstéyp (Thank you)
Miranda was one of the speakers at the Indigenous Peoples Career Stories event on Thursday, Feburary 21st, 2013.
Beyond the Blog
Visit the Indigenous Career Journey Stories page to read more stories like Miranda's!