RLOEA graduates attain goals

It was a day Lois Elaine Medicine has been awaiting for a long time.
Medicine, one of 16 people who graduated at the Rainy Lake Ojibway Education Authority ceremony yesterday, received her Ontario teacher’s certificate after completing the Native Teacher Education Program.
She has been a teacher assistant under Mary Curtis at Our Lady of the Way School for the past 15 years, wanting to be a teacher herself for much of that time.
Now Medicine is a teacher, qualified to teach elementary students up to grade six. And she said it feels pretty great.
“I’m anxious to have my own class,” she remarked before the graduation ceremony. “I have so many ideas. I want to use all the things that I learned.”
Students graduated with Honours Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Education degrees, as well as from the native teacher program.
Several students also were presented with high school diplomas.
“There’s a number of experiences you go through in day-to-day activities, and some experiences are very humbling,” noted RLOEA CEO Delbert Horton.
“Being asked to come and speak to the graduates is such an experience,” he added. “We’re here to honour their accomplishments and offer our sincere support.”
For Bill Perrault, who also completed the Native Teacher Education Program, yesterday’s graduation marked another step in his education goal.
“I want to eventually teach high school,” he said, noting he had to obtain his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees over the next two years. After that, he’d like to teach in one of the area schools to help provide a role model for native kids.
“This way, [teachers] can better understand where a child is coming from,” he said. “By educating people in the reserves to teach our children, you have that slight cultural difference that will be able to be breached.”
Lila Johnston, who graduated with her Honours Bachelor of Social Work, hopes to work with survivors of the residential schools. During the four years it took to earn her degree, she said learned to take the word “quit” out of her vocabulary.
“If I was going to tell anything to anyone, it would be don’t ever let anyone tell you can’t do anything,” she stressed.
Johnston’s already has looked at some job prospects in Kenora and British Columbia but she’s hoping for something closer to home.
“I went to school in this building and I used to run around here in this gym,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of my healing in this building. I’m hoping to work here.”