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"I was drawn to complete Indigenous Studies to gain the time and space to explore my own identity and presence as an Indigenous person in Canada."Read Christine's story. +
Finding her footing and a new love/new life
Christine La Vallee
After being out of school for nearly 30 years, Christine La Vallee (Kahkewistahaw First Nation) decided she wanted to be on an equal footing with mainstream society. "I thought it would be better if I at least had Grade 12," she says. Little did she know that upgrading would give her far more than just a high school certificate. Christine started her return to school upgrading at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre in 2008, then moved on campus and into an English literature class in 2009. "It was a life-changing event," she says. "I felt successful and I felt that I understood the works and that I wanted to do more. I found I loved literature and I'm still loving it."
“I was drawn to complete Indigenous Studies to gain the time and space to explore my own identity and presence as an Indigenous person in Canada. Then, having been accepted into the Associate of Arts Degree in English in 2012, I began to grasp the significance and the challenges of our common language. These two distinct programs have each informed every manner of my being and have made me constantly aware of not only the differences between the two but, more importantly, of their commonalities.”
Christine finished her Associate Degree of Arts in English in 2016, and is now looking to transfer to the University of Victoria to continue studies in literary theory and eventually to teach. In the meantime, we are pleased to have Christine employed as a secretary at IECC with Camosun.
"I always knew, even as a younger person I was always aware of those in our society who, for whatever reason seemed to just have things harder than the rest of us."Read Sharon's story. +
Sharon Gallager, 2012 Graduate, Rena Hayes award recipient
"I always knew, even as a younger person I was always aware of those in our society who, for whatever reason seemed to just have things harder than the rest of us. Whether related to poverty, addiction, prejudice, mental illness or some other hurdle that they had to overcome. Then as a teen I experienced ageism. I was seen as somehow less than equal because I was a teenager, I decided during those few years that I wanted to work with youth, preferably youth at risk.
Life went by, I was married, had children and then divorced and all through those years I hung onto the dream of one day working in the field of human services. I discovered the CYC program at UVic but the idea of university totally intimidated me. So I investigated college level programs because they offered smaller classrooms with a better student to teacher ratio. The fees were also lower.
Going through the Community, Family & Child Studies program was a very personal experience for me. I not only learned what I needed to learn to be a solid human services worker, but it also showed me that working with "at risk youth" was clearly the area I wanted to work in. One unexpected gift I received was the friendliness and respect from my peers. I also received a huge honour of being given the Rena Hayes award. Needless to say I walked away from Camosun College with very high self-esteem.
I now work part-time as a youth worker at Burnside/Gorge Community Center. I have begun designing a program related to G.L.T.B Youth (Gay, Lesbian, Transsexual or Bi-sexual) and the unique challenges they face. Ultimately, I would like to see it come to fruition.
The future looks bright and promising for me, and now that I have the necessary tools I can face it head on with confidence and positivity."
Sharon Gallager, April 2013