From Mining to Motherhood and More: Fredelle Deneyoua’s Path to a New Career in Business Administration
“A lot of people doubted me and said I couldn't do it. You know what? I proved them wrong,” recalls Fredelle Deneyoua. She is from Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories but grew up in Hay River. Deneyoua worked in underground mining for four years doing various tasks from dispatch, haul trucks, scoop, IT, whatever was needed. Working in a male-dominated industry was challenging but she enjoyed it. When she had a baby, she wanted to make a change.
She stayed home for a year and then went back to school, upgrading for two years and then entering Business Administration to receive a diploma. By the time she graduated, she had two young children. She didn’t want to take a year off with her second child and risk losing momentum so she kept going.
When she went back to school at Aurora College she didn’t really have a goal because she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. At first she thought she might enjoy nursing, but she changed her mind. She chose Business Administration hoping to go work for the government. Her re-entry to the workforce has been delayed until her youngest enters junior kindergarten and she’s currently a stay-at-home mom.
Moving away to go to school was a challenge. “I had to move away from my family and my safety net, it was hard. It was only like two and a half hours away, it was still hard, being in a new community and with a new baby,” she recalls. Her mom came with her to help with childcare so she was fortunate to have extra support.
Her advice to youth considering making a similar move is to take advantage of the resources the school makes available, from counselling, guidance, and library services. Doing so helped her with the big adjustment of being away from home. While she was away from home, Deneyoua knew students from her home community, which made things a bit easier and she also enjoyed meeting new people. Her time at Aurora College was a positive experience even though it was challenging.
Childcare has been a struggle in her family, with her spouse working away and her mom not always available, she has had a hard time getting help with her kids. All the day homes were full and there were no daycare centres in her area. She found care for her kids by word of mouth but it was really hard.
If she could give her younger self advice it would be to stay in school. Deneyoua dropped out in grade 9 and went back when she was 21 to get her high school diploma. She wanted to be able to qualify for a higher-paying job so she went back to graduate at last. She wishes she could tell herself before she dropped out, “Don't give up. You're smarter than you know. Don't be afraid to ask for help.”
“That's what life is all about. It's one big learning experience. You’re going to fall, you're going to tumble, but you're gonna get back up, and you're gonna give ‘er again.”
To maintain her mental health, Deneyoua goes for walks on her own, leaving her kids with their dad or her mom so she could have even a short break to clear her head. “Moving just makes you feel good, right? You're more level-headed, and you’re just calm when you come back,” she smiles, thinking of how going for walks helps her feel able to take on her many responsibilities.
She found routine helpful and doing homework at school instead of at home where there were so many distractions. When she changed her life for the better and quit drinking, she quickly learned who her friends were and made the choice to spend more time with her mom and boyfriend.
For inspiration, Deneyoua looks to her friend Carolyn who went back to school while raising kids. She’s also inspired her kids, who made her want to go back to school to have a better future for them and her family. “It's amazing what kids do and how they change your life,” she beams, reflecting on how much she loves being a mother, even though there are a lot of demands on her time. “It's a never-ending job, but it's worth it. I would do anything for them,” she continues.
In closing, her advice for Indigenous youth is encouraging. “Just believe in yourself. If you think you can do it, you can do it. It's all mental. If you need help, don't be afraid to ask for it.” After all, a lot of people doubted her and said she couldn't do it. She went ahead and proved them wrong, building a career in underground mining, going back to school to study business administration and raising her kids until she can re-enter the workforce when her family is ready. When the time comes, she knows she can do it, because she believes in herself.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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.