Since she was a child, Christine M’Lot knew when she grew up she wanted to be a teacher. From Swan Lake First Nation, but born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, M’Lot says she was really lucky she always knew she wanted to work with children, and that school was something she always liked and helped her out a lot.
“I even used to make my little sister be my student and I would teach her things and give her homework, which probably really sucked for her, but it was fun for me,” said M’Lot.
Of course she couldn’t just head straight to the classroom, she had to learn how to teach. So she went to the University of Winnipeg for a five-year program, where she was part of an integrated program.
The integrated program meant not only was she learning what she wanted to teach, but they also have to pick a teachable major and a minor, so what subject areas they want to teach.
For M’Lot, she says what she really liked about her program was that they were in classrooms and for placements she was there to observe and get a feel of what kind of class she would like to teach. From there, she knew she wanted to be a high school teacher.
M’Lot teaches English for students in grades 9–11, as well as a grade 12 global issues course and a mandatory grade nine truth and reconciliation course, which she says students are shocked to learn about the history.
“Oftentimes, their middle years education kind of consists of all the nice things about Indigenous topics and they don’t really get into the hard truth yet,” said M’Lot.
She says she also tries to make aspects of the course positive, such as Indigenous contributions to society and teaches them aspects about her culture as well because students would be sad when leaving the classroom.
Even though she is teaching students and is doing what she loves, M’Lot faced many personal obstacles to get where she is today.
She went through a difficult time in high school, and started acting out and falling into a negative lifestyle of drugs and alcohol.
“Addiction runs in my family and so I always kind of grew up thinking like, ‘Oh, I’m never going to be like that.’”
M’Lot was really close to not being able to graduate and become a teacher, until her boyfriend started getting her to think about her choices and what she really wanted in life.
“He noticed that I was doing all these stupid things and he’s like, ‘Why are you getting drunk every weekend? Why are you doing this? You want to be a teacher.’ And he really helped me get on a good track,” said M’Lot.
She said the questions he asked her and the things he said to her were really powerful and “exactly” what she needed in that moment.
Now, she tells youth who may encounter similar things she went through to stick to who you are and to always remember your goals, and says it was really important for her to be a teacher because she has always had that end goal and was something she knew she wanted to do.
“Stick to your goals and surround yourself with people who are doing the types of things that you want to do. Don’t surround yourself with people who are going to be negative influences on you,” said M’Lot.
And if there’s one thing she can tell people, and she tells this to her students all the time, it would be: do things now that your future self will thank you for.
Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.