Taz McKay is what you would call an incredible role model — partly because he loves working with youth. McKay is 20 years old and from Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba, but currently lives in Winnipeg.
He is a student at the University of Manitoba, and is currently in the process of completing his third year. McKay also works with a lot of youth, and has been doing so since he was about 15 or 16 years old.
“I remember first doing pow-wow workshops for kids at a camp near my home community. So that was kind of my first exposure I guess to working with youth and getting all the rewards that come from working with youth,” said McKay.
A large part of what motivated him to go to university was seeing his older brother who graduated from U of M with both a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and a Law Degree.
He says he got to watch his brother grow up through school, and that was “maybe” why he wanted to go to the same school his brother did even after looking at other schools.
“It’s kind of close to home and I know of other people who went to the U of M and I kind of wanted to kind of carry on whatever past they left there and kind of write my own story,” said McKay.
He is currently in his third year in the Faculty of Arts, and says he considered pursuing a commerce degree and attending the Asper School of Business.
But after considering and exploring a few different areas of study, he says he has already found his home where he already is.
Even though he has a good idea of what he wants to do now, it wasn’t always easy and he ran into some obstacles including the adjustment from high school to university.
“In high school you learn a lot of essential life skills and those life skills are to prepare you for what’s after high school. So that’s important to keep in mind when you’re coming, especially if you’re coming to university,” said McKay.
He says he was fortunate to learn this when he was around 15 or 16, when his parents were moving to his community from Dauphin and he made the decision to come to Winnipeg.
“When you come to a big school or a big town, whatever the case may be, there’s going to be a period where you have to really say to yourself, ‘Okay, this is what I came here for, this is what I’m trying to do, and I’m not going back until I achieved that," said McKay.
He also says to students that are thinking of leaving their community to pursue school, work, or whatever they want, that they can do just that: whatever they want.
He says university is not the only option out there, and that he chose it because his parents were “drawing him” towards it and that’s where he ended up.
“It’s totally up to you what you want to do when you get here. There’s so many options and anything is achievable,” said McKay.
Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay 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.