I enrolled into a part-time Academic Career Entrance (ACE) Program followed by a Pre-Health Certificate Program, which I then graduated from. Completing these programs helped me build my confidence, which then carried me to my acceptance into the Environmental Field & Laboratory Co-op Diploma Program at Niagara College. This was a two-year program with a mandatory internship after the first year. Being new, this program challenged me, especially in the first year. I began accumulating my co-op hours, which is when I was introduced to the Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board (NPAAMB). NPAAMB demonstrated understanding and acceptance for urban indigenous youth who strived to achieve their dreams, such as myself. I began volunteering with organizations and sharing NPAAMB’s flyers with them in hopes of possibly creating an employment opportunity. It was not long after, that a not-for-profit organization called Drainage Investment Group (DIG) reached out to NPAAMB to form a partnership. Weeks later, I was hired as a full-time Environmental Field & Research Technician.
Throughout the summer I learned so much from my mentors in the field. With NPAAMB’s continued support, I became a certified Ontario Electro-Fishing Backpack and Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network Participant. The certifications helped me become successful in my second year of the program. Thanks to NPAAMB’s support, I was able to obtain the mandatory co-op hours needed to become an Environmental Field & Laboratory Technician. To continue fulfilling my dreams, I enrolled into the Ecosystem Restoration Post-Graduate Certificate Program at Niagara College. During that time, I was invited to study abroad something I had only dreamed of doing. With NPAAMB’s support, I found myself applying for the study abroad program right away. The program was based on ecological restoration, sending students travelling to Central America to learn and adapt environmental practices of the world’s leading carbon-neutral country, Costa Rica. In no time I found myself in complete awe learning about the tropical rainforest in Costa Rica. Later travelling to places such as Montana de Fuego and Monteverde cloud forest. This would be by far, the best experience I could have ever asked for, as I learned so much from the amazing country. It would not be long after my studies abroad, that I would find myself graduating with honours, as an Ecosystem Restoration Practitioner, with a job opportunity waiting for me as a Species at Risk Field and Research Assistant. My previous employer DIG and NPAAMB connected, creating my dream job; working toward the preservation of species at risk. Which leads me to say, I am now helping preserve endangered species in the Niagara Region in order to help maintain our unique vital ecosystems.
To conclude my testimonial, I would like to acknowledge the Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Board and Rhonda Dickenson for always supporting and believing in me. Your generous contributions throughout my studies, has made my educational experience a memorable one. I now have the confidence and perseverance to keep reaching for higher education and unique experiences.
Thanks for encouraging me to pursue my dreams.
Miigwetch / Nia:wen / Thank you / Merci