Jojo Tootoosis had no idea what she wanted to do when she applied for school.
From Poundmaker First Nation, Tootoosis said she went to university essentially just to do it, and said at the time she knew she needed to do something after the passing of her father. Tootoosis got into ITEP (Indian Teacher Education Program) at the University of Saskatchewan.
“I went into ITEP into education thinking of not wanting to be a teacher all through it out. The opportunity with the education degree is endless, you can do anything with it,” said Tootoosis.
With her education degree, Tootoosis uses it as a life skills coach working at a school in her own community and says she’s “really grateful” for it to happen the way it has.
For her job, before the pandemic, she would work the same hours as a teacher and would have a setup in a classroom for students to come in with whatever they need, whether it was a talk or just for them to take a break.
She also would schedule which students she would need to see and check in on, and just hang with students in the class throughout the day.
“I would set up little times during lunch hour to interview, not interview, to present to them little workshops. Yeah, so it was really fun,” said Tootoosis.
But leaving her community to get where she is today is something she had to do, and says to youth doing something similar to take it seriously.
“Post-secondary and education is a treaty right, so when you’re ready and you know you’re ready, take it seriously, as seriously as you can.”
One of the obstacles she’s had to face in university was the party crowd and going out, and says it is not worth it.
“Having that little leverage of being away from home and stuff, it opened up doors that had no reason to be open. And really the obstacle was really shutting that door out,” said Tootoosis.
And if there’s any advice or message she could give to her younger self it would be “the only way out is to go through it,” essentially saying once you start something you finish it.
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.