First Nation & Post-Secondary Education: My Experience

Today, I attend the University of Western Ontario. I am a first year student. I try my best to stay involved–maintain my social life and maintain my grades.

There are many things that I have overcome since my entry into this university. I feel very blessed to be at this university. Someone told me that they didn’t get in on the first time they applied. I got in, first try. I am not telling you this because I want to wave it around and brag about it in front of your face. I share this because I am proud of this.

Before going to university, I did three years of college. I excelled at college. I worked hard for A-level grades and tutored fellow peers. I wish I was more involved though with the rest of the student body.

I am very thankful that I am allowed to study at this university. I am very thankful for the funding that I receive. However, I also work part-time to help pay the bills/rent. I also receive a lot of help as a student with a learning disability. This disability isn’t necessarily a “learning disability,” it is an acquired disability. I have an acquired brain injury. I am thankful to be a survivor. You can read about this more in my Acquired Brain Injury post.

From both college and university, I am most thankful for the First Nation services and assistance that both institutions provided. Without these resources, I would feel lost. By lost, I don’t mean that I wouldn’t know where to find a building on campus. What I mean by lost has a more deeper meaning.

The issues that First Nations and their First Nations students face when going to school are very complex. In my experience, it is somewhat of a culture shock. Nobody tells you what to expect. Nobody tells you that the things you might hear people say, may make you angry, or may make you cry and that nobody will understand why hearing those things make you angry or cry. Nobody tells you that it’s okay to share your knowledge. Nobody tells you that it’s okay to stand up for yourself (but that you have to do it with tact and class). Nobody tells you that it’s okay to ask questions and that it’s okay to not know everything about being Native.

At the university I go to, I was told that it’s not my duty to know everything about being Native. I was told that I can ask questions at anytime and if they didn’t have the answer, they would help me find the answer. I was told that I only have to educate others on what I know, and that I would be supported in this.

It is the counseling I receive from First Nations services, from people who know and understand the issues that First Nations and First Nations students face, that helps me to be successful. It is this understanding from First Nations services, that helps me to not feel so lost. This is why I feel valued. It is these people and the services that this center provides that helps me to be successful.

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