Born to Teach: Sonia Minoza Finds Her Place At School as a Student, then as a Teacher
“Being the older sister of three other sisters in the family, you naturally step into a role of already being a teacher,” Sonia Minoza explains. A Dene woman from Fort Providence, she is a mother of two children who has a Bachelor of Education. She often says she was raised to lead a classroom as the eldest child in her family. “I wasn't sure but I stuck it out and I really enjoy it,” she smiles. She’s found her way back home to the classroom, but she had to go on an adventure to get there.
She was also inspired by her teachers and mentors who encouraged her and when she thinks about them, she says, “I love how they have so much belief to push their past students.They inspire me all the time because they are constantly benefiting the community and moving forward and always trying to get people going out and evolving themselves and further educating themselves.” Their encouragement helped her get where she wanted to be.
After high school, she applied for a Teaching Access Program in Fort Smith. From there, she went on to study Indigenous studies through Camosun College for two years. Her next journey involved coming back to the North and continuing her education there. She transferred her credits from her first two years of studies and was excited to complete her degree back in Fort Smith in just two more years. Daunted at the idea of starting over for a four-year degree, she was grateful her credits could transfer over to her new school and she could just continue on towards her goal. Now five years into her career, Minoza represents the teachers in her school as Leader, Representative Officer.
Her advice for students considering doing what she did, leaving their home community for education, is “build good connections with Aboriginal centers so you have a sense of belonging and a sense of home away from yours and you can build community around there.” When she was in the Indigenous Studies program in Victoria, she built strong relationships with Indigenous students from elsewhere that she met at the Indigenous student centre. “You automatically feel the connection. They're welcoming and they connect you to their culture so you still have a sense of a home in relationship with Indigenous students,” she recalls.
She needed that connection and support because she had obstacles to overcome. Finding funding, bursaries and scholarships was a challenge. She also became a mother throughout her education journey, which added its own complexities. If she could give her younger self advice it would be, “Allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone and seek help when needed, Never be afraid to ask.”
As someone who is quiet and tends not to be outspoken, asking for help was something she had to learn, along with how to balance her mental health. She finds a sense of balance through being physically active and exercising, moving her body by going for walks, and being out in nature to connect with herself. Feeling the sun and wind on her skin and connecting with her senses, Minoza finds Nature to be healing.
Growing up as the oldest sister, she learned early how to teach and lead, setting a good example for her younger siblings. She wasn’t sure it was what she wanted to do professionally but she stuck it out and found her joy. Sonia Minoza is a Dene woman from Fort Providence, a mother of two children and a teacher who holds a Bachelor of Education. Inspired by her past teachers, she’s found her way back home to the classroom, but she had to go on an adventure to get there. Standing at the front of the class, she’s inspiring a new generation of teachers and staying connected to who she is as she helps her students find their way.
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.