A Masters Evening with Mercedes
June 6, 2011
I am thankful for this opportunity to tell you what the Regina Adult Learning Centre* means to me as an apprentice.
I am 25 years old and a mother of three beautiful children. I have two daughters and one son, aged 8, 6, and 3 years. I was born in Regina and raised in a total of 27 foster care homes between the ages of 2 to 14 years. Consequently, there were many negative effects on my life. I learned to give up when times got tough. I learned to run away from all my problems. The most damaging teaching I learned was to not love myself. If no one wanted to keep me or believe in me, how would I want to believe in myself?
For many years, I kept those teachings with me and some I may have passed on to my children.
Two years ago, I gave my children to the care of others because I felt I was not a good enough mother. I had very little education and felt inadequate when it came to helping my daughter with school work. There was no room in day care for my two youngest and my only transportation was the bus. It seemed at that point that my only option was to give them up to give them a better chance in life.
There were many times in the past years when I had chances to finish my grade 12 but was unsuccessful due to the negative effects of my upbringing.
When I first heard about the Regina Adult Learning Centre, I knew instinctively that this was a place where I would learn to be successful. I was so excited when I got the call telling me I had been accepted to begin in January 2011. At first, I was hesitant to believe in myself enough to get through even the first week. But as days went into weeks I grew more confident in my abilities and potential.
My time at the RALC has given me more confidence and I can now see a brighter future for myself. It is always a positive atmosphere when I get to work in the morning and the facilitators truly care about our success. Taking programs such as Thought Patterns, Bookkeeping, How Money Works, and Goal Setting are very important skills that are truly a blessing and crucial at this point in my life. Another important opportunity is to learn how to drive and obtain my driver’s licence. I do not think this would have been possible if not for the RALC.
I now understand that things learned can be unlearned and I can change my negative self-talk.
I have been through many changes while attending the RALC. Homelessness and addictions go hand in hand often, and I am working on overcoming both of them with my new outlook on life. I have been able to struggle my way through with a lot of support.
When I graduate from the RALC, my goal is to attend the First Nations University of Canada and obtain my Bachelor of Arts degree in Saulteaux Language Studies. I also want to explore Social Policy and Resources in order to work on making a difference in society. I plan on planting my roots and bringing my children home.
The fact that the RALC is managed as a business model is a large part of my success as I have learned many positive teachings while attending. I now understand what it means to be responsible, reliable, and accountable.
Thank you all for inviting me to share some of my experiences and blessings. I thank you for investing your time and money in the RALC.
Without your investment, I would not have gained the confidence in myself to accomplish my goals.
* The Regina Adult Learning Centre (ALC or RALC) changed its name to Ignite Adult Learning Corporation in January 2012.
Leading Edge New Investor Event
September 27, 2011
I graduated from the Adult Learning Centre* on May 28, 2010. I want to tell you what the ALC has done for me and can do for other young adults who find themselves at-risk.
First, let me give you a short story about my background before I arrived at the ALC. At that point in my life, I was dealing with many issues from the past such as the challenges of being a single father, attending court dates, and my decision to leave a violent gang life behind.
The first day I walked into ALC was when I was driving around the area looking for a different school and assumed the ALC was the place. I discovered it was a school, but not the one I was looking for. I started asking Lois questions about what the place had to offer and she then introduced me to Carlo. That was something because he didn’t look at me with what I have seen in people’s eyes most of my life – that questioning look of fear. Instead, I received a big smile and a handshake and answers to all of my questions. I took the application home, filled it out, and dropped it off the next week.
When I showed up for an information session I thought, “Can I really do this?” I had not been in school since I was 15 and that was 12 years ago. And the dress code freaked me out: dressing in slacks and a dress shirt and wearing shoes, not runners. However, in the end, I was accepted by the ALC and started my education over again, this time as an adult.
The ALC taught me how to be sure of myself and gave me the tools to go out and get a job. I made some people happy for once with the news that I was in school and looking different. While I was there, I thought about what was important to me and then began to rethink what my daughter and I needed.
If I had not been accepted into the ALC, there is a good chance I would be still on the other side of the law, in jail, or even dead by now. I say that because it pays to have an education in the world we live in. I would not have gotten anywhere if I had not been accepted into the ALC when I was.
The person I was in the past compared to the person I am now is the biggest change I have accomplished. I love the way I can keep up with life and have day-to-day discussions with close friends or loved ones. I love when people come to me asking me for advice with the struggles they have to deal with.
After I finished at ALC, I had a real opportunity to give back to the city, little by little. A lot of that had to do with the Regina Anti-Gang Services or R.A.G.S. I began working for the woman who helped me with my change in life, Jacky Wasacase, the Director of Rags and better known to us as “mom”. Being there on payroll was something else because everything changed and my responsibilities changed as well.
I was able to do a lot with some of the people there, such as creating resources for the men and women who attended. I also worked on planning some of the outings such as paintball, movie nights, poker nights and so on. More or less, it was about trying to show the guys that healthy living can be accomplished.
I now live in Moose Jaw where I have two jobs. I work as a security guard on a movie set and I also work at Houston pizza as a cook. It is something new just for the simple fact that I have never had two jobs at once in my life. It is something I enjoy at the moment because it keeps me busy. Plus… my little girl loves the time we have together because she can see that the change is real with her dad. That makes me proud to say I can talk to my little girl and know all the answers…for the most part.
In the near future, I would like to get back into school for a social work degree. I want to make my work heard everywhere, not just for social services. I want to have my own place where people would be welcomed as human beings and not looked down upon as poverty broken people or drunks. I learned about those concepts from both RAGS and the Regina Adult Learning Centre.
It would be nice to see the ALC get bigger and have newer programs just for the simple fact that people are growing and the way they learn is different. Even a new location closer to the people who have to catch a bus to get there would be nice. Just a thought!
I will end with a thank you because I know I would not have been able to do accomplish all the changes in my life without the investors for Cycle 30, and the teachers and other staff who worked with me. Thank you for your time and have a great evening.
* The Regina Adult Learning Centre (ALC) changed its name to Ignite Adult Learning Corporation in January 2012.