I was a single mother who spoke another language, but I earned the degree I wanted
I first arrived in St. John’s to attend Memorial University in the spring of 1998. I was 24 years old, a single mom with two beautiful children — ages three and five — and no academic education.
I embraced what city life had to offer and the beautiful scenery. I really enjoyed taking my children swimming, sightseeing or just seeing movies on the big screen.
I left Sheshatshiu to better my life and my children’s lives. I wanted an education so I could eventually support myself and my children.
University was hard. Very hard.
I was not book smart. I had never finished a book on my own. I had never written an assignment or an academic paper before. I had to work extra hard just to keep up.
I started a program called English as Second Language that spring semester.
At first I was not accepted into the program — and that was because I was not an international student. I knew I would need a lot of help with my reading and writing so I argued to get into the ESL program. Thankfully, I was accepted. Discouraged, but not deterred
I did not grow up speaking English. My first language is Innu-aimun. Therefore I think in Innu.
It is very difficult and stressful when your first language is not English and you try to write academic papers in that language. Kanani Davis is now the director of education for the Innu of Labrador. (Mark Cumby/CBC) I would sit there for long periods of time before I could even put thoughts and words on paper. I would pass in my work to my professors and then receive them back, only to find a lot of red marks.
It was discouraging, that feeling of failure when you have worked so hard.
Did I continue?
Darn right, I did.
It was hard living in the city as an Innu student and single mom. I had a tight schedule because I had children who also needed my attention. I would work on my school work during the day, and in between classes I’d run home to cook, bathe and help my children with their school work.
Sometimes in the evenings I’d have to drive my son to hockey and drag my daughter to cold arenas to watch her brother play.
One of the toughest times as a student with children was when one of us got sick. There was no one to call on. I just had to juggle what came at me and continue on with our lives.I was so thankful my children were such loving and caring little souls. They were great helpers and truly powerful motivators. Excursions to Signal Hill One of the best memories while living in St. John’s was taking my kids out for evening drives in the city. When they were small and refused to go to sleep I would grab their blankets and pillows and we’d go for a drive to Signal Hill.We would park at the top of Signal Hill and watch the city lights. We loved it! We would get back in the vehicle, where I’d tell the kids, "Set up your blankets and pillows in the back," and soon they were fast asleep. While studying at Memorial University, Kanani Davis was also raising her son Nikashantess and daughter Petshish. (Kanani Davis) Not only was school and motherhood hard but living in the city was tough too.Even though I met and made good friends here in St. John’s, I also experienced quite a bit of racism.I was so […]
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