Protecting and Serving Communities (and cake!): Police officer, boxer, baker and mom
As a boxer, she raises her fists. As a police officer, she raised her badge. As a mom, she’s raising her family and as a student, her knowledge of the Mohawk language. She protected the Lac Seul community, the children on her reserve and these days she’s protecting her own baby. She’s continuing on her learning journey to finish what she started in her degree program and starting life as a new parent.
Kara McLeod is a Mohawk woman from Six Nations of the Grand River and is half Ojibway, too. She’s raising a newborn and attending university part time to finish her degree in First Nation studies with a minor in psychology. She put her schooling on hold for seven years while she worked in Lac Seul First Nation doing police work, twenty hours away from her home community.
Policing wasn’t her initial choice of career, she just knew she wanted to be involved with and helpful to Indigenous people and didn’t want a 9-5 job. Her brother was a police officer before she started working in the field and she heard about the opening in Lac Seul. She had a relative in the community who was a nurse and other family members encouraged her to apply. She picked her brother’s brain about her job and the more she learned, the more she wanted to do it.
Working in a smaller community, she was on her own about a third of the time, which could be intimidating. She went to police college to be trained after being hired as a special constable until classes were available. Her history of amateur and professional boxing came in handy to meet the physical requirements.
She got homesick and went back, but she loved her work. She hopes to serve in policing closer to home one day, but when she returned she took a contract for a year in child protection in their legal department. When the contract was over, she went back to school. When she found out she was pregnant, she took classes over the summer so she could focus on her family when her baby arrived.
When she was in high school, McLeod considered herself to be a bit of a wild child, with spotty attendance and not a strong showing academically. When she realized she wanted a career and to go to university, she decided to buckle down and graduate, ending up on the honour roll for both years and the Dean’s list.
Her advice to youth considering leaving their home community to pursue their education is "Do it, especially while you're young. See the world. Experience new things that you might not be able to have a chance to later when you have all these responsibilities…I think that it’s really important to get out of your own little bubble… You can always go home. Home will be there later."
Kinesiology was the first program she decided to take when she went to school, since she was an athlete her whole life and into fitness and healthy living. Science wasn’t her strong suit and she decided to switch to First Nations studies, something that worked well for her as a strong writer.
She’s been learning the Mohawk language and took immersion for a year on her reserve with credits that could be applied to her degree. She didn’t grow up speaking her language because her mom didn’t learn it growing up. For as long as she could remember, Mcleod wanted to get really established with her roots.
In her free time, Mcleod goes to the gym to relieve stress three times a week. She bakes and sells decorative cakes on the side through her business, Six Nations Cake Creations, something she enjoys and pays her some money. She owned a boxing club when she lived in Lac Seul and taught people of all ages how to box, from children to people in their fifties, many First Nations. Now she teaches boxing online through Connected North.
As a boxer, she raises her fists and as a police officer, she raised her badge. As a mom, she’s raising her family and as a student, her knowledge of the Mohawk language. She protected the Lac Seul community and the children on her reserve and these days she’s protecting her own baby. Former police officer, boxer, baker and mom, she’s protecting and serving decorative cakes and enjoying a sweet future close to home.
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.