Niquita Thomas is very busy at a young age, but is only just showing the world she’s only getting started.
Thomas is a Cayuga woman from Six Nations of the Grand River and is currently studying Indigenous community service work. Along with this, she is also in the Canadian Roots Exchange Policy School.
She will be presenting to the government in September about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and if that’s not enough, she also works as a wildlife monitoring assistant for coyote problems, setting up cameras on properties so people can understand what kind of wildlife and animals live there.
Her journey is always changing. When Thomas first entered university, she was interested in becoming a forensic anthropologist because she was “really concerned” about the issues following missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, but was found to be difficult for her.
Thomas wanted to find another way to be able to “help our people” and give back to not only her community but other communities as well.
Inspired by her mother’s work as a social service worker at native organizations in Ottawa and Toronto, Thomas decided she would like to follow in her footsteps.
She started looking at different programs and schools across the country to see what really sparked her interest, and was moving around a lot living in places like Calgary and Nova Scotia.
It wasn’t until she moved back to Ottawa and started looking at the schools there and found an Indigenous community service worker program at Willis College that really sparked her interest.
“A lot of social workers are not able to give Indigenous people the help they need because they have not, themselves, experienced those type of things [Indigenous knowledge.] So it is a hard connection to make as a social worker to the client,” said Thomas.
While she continues to learn and strive for what she wants, if there is one thing she can tell future students that was important for her and helped her out, it would be to network.
“Reach out to people, look for organizations in the communities where you’re going, in the cities. You may think there’s not many, but there’s a lot. You can do your research. And they are very helpful,” says Thomas.
For Thomas, even though Ottawa was her home city, she felt out of place being there because she was gone for six years. She went to the organizations in the city that would do events like bead nights and culture nights.
“Everyone that’s aboriginal and Indigenous will come there and it’s just your own home community in the city. So it’s really cool.”
Thomas also says self-care and picking time for yourself is important, but so is knowing “this is your own journey.”
“You may see your friends doing other things that are maybe ahead of you and you feel low at times and you just have to realize that you’re on your own path and everyone walks their own way. You’ll get to where you want to be in time.”
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.