I am one of the few people in my entire extended family to graduate from high school.
I am one of less than a handful of people in my entire extended family to have graduated with a post-secondary degree and the ONLY one to have done it before 30.
I am the only person in my entire extended family to have graduated with two post-secondary degrees.
I am a trail blazer. I am a trail blazer because of the support and grounding of my family and community. Without that support and grounding, I would not have the formal education I do. I do not stand alone. I did not accomplish this on my own. My individual effort was made possibly because of communal effort.
1. Formal education has allowed me to normalise secondary and post-secondary education for my children, making it more likely that they will succeed in both.
For this, I thank my family and community.
2. Formal education makes it more difficult for settlers to discount and denigrate my opinions.
I have an obligation to use this power to advocate for my people.
3. Formal education has allowed me to earn a living far above the norm for most native peoples in Canada.
I have an obligation to contribute to my community in any way I can to ensure that others will also have this opportunity.
4. Formal education has allowed me to dispel any awe or fear I had of people in positions of power.
I have an obligation to deconstruct power and privilege so that my people will not feel awe or fear either.
5. Formal education has allowed me to see very clearly just how formal education can colonise and assimilate.
I have an obligation to resist this process, to remember where I come from, to not become vain with the belief that a formal education makes me better than others, and to not belittle myself and believe that a formal education makes me less native.
Formal education is a tool, and only one of many in my tool-kit. It is an important tool, but not all-important. It is not a tool one achieves alone, regardless of background. It is not something I believe should be taken for granted nor should it be denigrated. It is both a privilege and a hardship, in more ways than just financially.
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