Mika Lafond is a very determined and inspiring woman. She was born and raised in Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, an hour north of Saskatoon, and works as both a teacher and an author. Lafond was motivated to work these jobs since she was a kid, and says she always wanted to work with children.
“I really committed to it when I was in grade 12. I had a really special teacher that year. I became a mom in grade 12, and so she supported me through that year. And then I was like, yes, this is what I definitely want to do,” said Lafond.
When she graduated grade 12, Lafond decided to head straight to university right away and “completely failed every class” that year. She decided she wasn’t ready for the transition yet, and worked for a while.
Lafond then found out about the Indian Teacher Education Program and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for her so she applied and got in.
“It was a completely different experience from my first year at university in the mainstream, because it was like a family right from the start. And everybody in the room kind of had the same experiences as me. So we really connected that way,” said Lafond.
She had another baby during her second year and says managing school with two small children was “pretty crazy,” but she made it through because of the support she had.
And even though school and raising children was difficult at times, Lafond says one of the other obstacles she had to face was being in an abusive relationship while she was in post-secondary school.
“That was a real struggle because if I wanted to stay late to study I had to explain myself. I had to explain who I was talking to. Well, I didn’t have to, but in that relationship, that was the expectation,” said Lafond.
Lafond also had to move from her community to pursuit what she wanted, and for students thinking of doing the same thing she says to be prepared for a drastic change.
She had to leave the reserve when she was pregnant with her first child due to lack of options for continuing her education there, so her first experience being away was going to Mount Royal Collegiate in the city.
“Walking into Mount Royal, it was like, wow, there’s so many people here. And there was so many classrooms and I was getting lost. And then that was huge for me, a big transition. And I felt lost for most of that first part of that year,” said Lafond.
Lafond has pushed her way through obstacles and has come out successful, and if there was anything she could tell her younger self it would be to be very careful about whom she believed as a young person.
She says when she got pregnant, one teacher told her she had ruined her life and she would never achieve anything she wanted because of it. But, she also had another teacher who supported her and made sure she had her own support system.
“I could have just believed that I had… That was going to be the rest of my life, that I had made a mistake. And I was going to just struggle. And I chose to listen to the teacher who said, learn to speak for yourself and you’ll be all right. And find people that support you.”
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.