Never Too Late: James Beardy Pursues His Resource Management Dreams
“If there's something you want to do when you're young, do it. Even if people think it's weird. Just do it. I lost sight of things I liked when I was younger,” James Beardy suggests, reflecting on his journey of twists and turns, much like a hiking trail, to find what lights him up. A self-described nerd until grade seven, he started rebelling when he started making friends. He was interested in science, but it wasn’t cool. He followed the crowd and walked away from his passions. But all that’s changing now. He found a mountain to climb and he’s going for it.
"I don't want to say I'm late in life. That's not a good thing to say, it's happening in the time it's supposed to happen for me."
James Beardy is from Fox Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 5 territory in northern Manitoba. Son to Darlene Beardy raised by grandparents, Lilly Spence and the late Larry Spence, James is of Cree and Scottish heritage. After working as an automotive service technician for almost a decade, he decided to move on to start something new.
"If you like it, just do it. There's going to be obstacles. That'll figure itself out. Just act on it. No matter what, just try."
His heart wasn’t in his work and he moved to BC to go back to school and upgrade his education through the Aboriginal University Bridging Program. Accepted to the Resource Management Officer Training, he hopes to ladder into the Bachelor of Natural protection. His dream is to get into environmental work where he can protect resources.
"Because resources are going down quite fast, at quite an alarming rate, I feel like I need to do whatever I can to actually help preserve that for whatever generations coming behind me."
Now that he’s geographically closer to his son, he looks forward to his child being able to witness him going for his dreams and contributing to the community. Community matters to Beardy, reflecting on his experience leaving home and how he realized what he would need moving forward. “I needed to build some sort of community. That's the only way I'll be able to function, to feel at home, safe, and have friends,” he recalled. That’s why he got involved with the Community Cousins Program.
"I jumped into it headfirst because I had seen the presentation maybe my first week and what it was was Aboriginal students coming from afar, coming from other communities and people just returning to school at an older age, people who were coming straight from grade nine or 10 because they dropped out, but they want to give it a try again. Once I joined that, it just made it so much easier," he explained.
In his home community, Beardy felt stuck. “I wasn't able to see out of that place. I could never see myself moving. I could never see myself going higher. I could never see myself bigger than I was,” Beardy remembered. After meeting a new partner, he made a decision to move away and start over.
The transition wasn’t exactly smooth for Beardy. “I had a hard time adjusting to a new life, adjusting away from home, trying to learn new, better ways of living, new things like that,” he relayed, describing the difficulty but important journey of breaking the cycle and beginning again.
The lesson Beardy learned along the way is that it’s never too late to start over. “ If there's something you do want to do, first of all, embrace it. I wish I would have just followed sciences that I actually liked as a kid. I always wanted to do something environmental. It's a little late, but never too late, I guess,” he offered.
As the pandemic set in, Beardy was not dissuaded from following his dreams. He found purpose exploring hiking trails, setting goals for his movement and the sense of accomplishment he gets from finishing a trail. He was able to stay positive by moving his body and keeping it healthy.
Now that Beardy is back to pursuing the interests of his youth, he’s inspired by his progress. “Just one class at a time, building up on it, building up on it, I just see progress. So I just keep showing myself that I'm still moving forward. I just love it,” he beamed. He has a strong support system and draws strength surrounded by like minded, motivated people pursuing their own goals alongside him.
James Beardy is back on his path, pursuing its summit like a hiking trail, embracing the opportunity to build a better world for his son. He’s found his mountain to climb, knowing it’s not too late, for him or the earth. This time he knows he’s going to make it.
Thanks to Alison Tedford for authoring this article.
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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.