It shows the next generation anything is possible.

I first heard about Ndinawe through a newspaper ad. It was an opportunity to get a college certified education as a child and youth worker – a 10-month fully-funded program to attend school and get daycare while you’re in school. 

I was already working full-time for a wonderful company. But because I had only Grade eight education, I couldn’t advance. I took a leave of absence and enrolled. Ndinawe is a partnership with Red River College. Everyone in class had street experience. That was important. I could fit in here. 

Everything you need is there. It’s a family situation. The Aboriginal teachings are very strong and help you heal. At any time you can come back to get help with a resume or references. Those who are furthering their education can get help with applications and funding. That kind of support is rare. 

We formed a survivor-led Alumnae Group to help recent graduates get jobs and keep jobs. There are weekly meetings. We have a meal. We validate our growth, and help each other keep our sobriety and the humour flowing. 

There are 58 proud alumnae graduates: 48 are employed, nine went on to take second year, three went on to other post-secondary education, and one has a BA degree. 

What’s really important is that the 150 children of alumnae now have a parent with a higher education. Those children have new role models. 

Before the program, I was making $9.67/hour and supporting kids. When I graduated with honours, I got a job that paid $21/hour and got out of poverty. 

My credibility increased with that piece of paper. It’s on my resumé. It made me know I wasn’t stupid. When I was a kid I didn’t fit in at school. I’m dyslexic. People said I was a product of drugs and alcohol – nowadays I would be labeled FAE. Nobody expected much of me and I believed it too. With Ndinawe, I got a 4.33 GPA out of a possible 4.50. 

My daughter and I went to school at the same time. For anyone, I would recommend going to college with their child. It’s a life lesson and a wonderful experience. 

It shows the next generation anything is possible. 

Read Laurie's inpsiring poem called "My Successes" on our blog.

The Child and Youth Care program that Laurie attended is delivered by Red River College in partnership with Ndinawe, a Canadian Women’s Foundation funded program.