Watchiyaa from Thunder Bay, Ontario

I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity of being able to go to post-secondary education institutions. I left home with nothing but the clothing on my back and my two children. In pursuit of higher education. I moved away from home even though I did not know anyone in Thunder Bay. I was very strategic when making the decision to go to school. I decided to go to where I did not have move once done college. I did not know why I thought I could to go to university. All I know now is that I loved learning. Going to Lakehead University in Thunder Bay would mean not having to make a transition to another city. I was particularly interested in pursuing education and counselling.

Being an Indian in the city was not always easy but in the education system being Indian had its advantages. As I progressed in university, I used the Aboriginal worldview, culture, language and traditional knowledge to teach others. Although, I live in the city, translation to English is my best tool. I am Cree, my thoughts are in Cree, my worldview is Cree teachings and I hold them dearly close to my heart, I just learned to live Cree in the white-man’s world.

To date, I have earned two college diplomas – one in General Arts and Science and one in the Mental Health Program. After I was done college, I decided to go to university, which I was able to obtain two university degrees, a major in Sociology and Indigenous Studies. I learnt so much about myself in that time frame. I was learning to be responsible. I was in charge of my destiny. I was learning to become an adult. I was learning how to survive in this world without much support from my family. I learned the hard way with many challenges. Finally, I stopped depending on my family to send me money, if I went broke before the end of the month. I paid rent, paid utilities and expenses related to living. I gained experience in living life to the fullest. I became a person who I never knew before.

I am grateful for the many years that I was supported to go to school by Cree School Board. Our young people’s dreams are worth acknowledgement for they are our best investment for the future. I have had many employment opportunities to work in the field of education and training.

Today, I can and want to give back. Finally I can share my knowledge and skills that I have acquired through the support of the Cree School Board. Today, I am committed to share my knowledge and not be afraid to say that I lived on the Cree School Board post-secondary program for many years – in order to become a part of the helping field. I look forward to that opportunity.

Cree School Board I was a worthwhile investment because I am doing okay. I work hard to earn my living; better yet, I get paid for what I enjoy doing on a day-to day-basis…because of someone’s vision of our youth. I am okay.

Janet Napash
Thunder Bay, Ontario