Letter: Family bond within Kina Awiiya Secondary Program – How our school supports us as young parents

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I was 24 years old trying to come back to high school, as a single mom, with a 3 year old. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to get my grade 12 as a young, single, mom. As I got to know the teachers I saw that it takes a community to raise a child and to achieve your goals. They (Indian Friendship Centre and Algoma District School Board staff) helped me with transportation so that I could get to school on time and occupied (my son) so that I could get my work done.

My teachers understood that there might be some assignments that would take longer but that my son always came first. To this day my son is first but they understand if I can’t make it to school on time, or am absent, that I am doing my work at home.

As I’m coming to the end (graduating this year) I needed to let my teachers know that I wouldn’t have made it without them.

Any other moms thinking of finishing high school don’t be afraid. They welcome you with open arms here at Kina Awiiya Secondary Program.

I know of a few other moms, trying to get their grade 12, that say almost the same thing; how much they appreciate the school. For example, I appreciate seeing my principal holding a baby so the mom can take her exam or the teachers taking the babies and mingling with them. The school is like another family; our chosen one. And I’m sure the teachers enjoy watching the young ones grow up as we are accomplishing our goals and might even have a little tear as they watch us walk across the stage.

It’s a joy coming to school knowing we have support now and that we will have support afterwards; that we can always come back(home).

Kina Awiiya Secondary Program helps us to teach our culture to our children. Letting us bring our children to school and letting our kids see us be successful in our goals. Cultural activities like ceremony, sweat lodge, and grandmother teachings have helped us to show our children the good ways.

We are fortunate that we have a good start with breakfast every day, a hot lunch to energize us, and milk and produce for our kids when we need it.
This is an example of a true meaning of community that our children see.

Shout out to all the teachers at Kina Awiiya for loving us and supporting us not just from the moms but from the whole student body.

-Stephanie Van Buskirk