For the Love of Family and Community: Victoria Constant’s Quest to Learn More and Give Back
“I do love my community and where I'm from, and one day it is my dream to come back,” Victoria Constant explains. She is from Fort Providence, Northwest Territories and she was raised there until the age of 15, when she went to school part time in Alberta to improve her academic standing. She was not thriving in her high school in her hometown but becoming a mother at the age of 22 inspired her to go to college to create a better future for her daughter. In her first year of post-secondary, she became pregnant again.
To balance the demands of motherhood and her studies, she took a reduced course schedule, slowing down her college journey at Grand Prairie Regional College, which is now called Northwestern Polytechnical. She took time away from school for a few years to raise her children and worked as a medical receptionist when they were in preschool. She made her way back to school for a certificate in Business Administration before working as an optometrist assistant for seven years.
Following that adventure, she went back to college for a diploma majoring in accounting in a very busy year, juggling five classes. With her new skills and knowledge, she landed work as a member's administrative assistant to the Grand Prairie Association of Realtors. While she was in school, they worked around her schedule and while she started as an administrative assistant, she now works in finance in the same office. Now she loves what she does, and she owes it all to the drive she found when she had her first child.
Her advice for youth considering leaving their community in search of opportunity and education is based on her own experiences doing the same. “I highly, highly recommend leaving your community from time to time, especially to go to college and get a better education. I know what it's like being raised in community, it can feel like we end up putting blinders on regarding the rest of the world and this can lead to depression and it can often feel like you're stuck in a time warp, and life just goes so far,” she relays.
“Leaving your community can help you see there's so much more out there. There are more opportunities, there's more places to see and then once you get a better education, you can travel and see more of the world. Also, you can take your education and go back home and use it to the greater good of the community,” Constant continues. Taking little trips to see the outside world is a way she recommends getting started.
She suggests taking the things that you are passionate about and connecting them with the needs of the community to create more opportunity and fill gaps. “I still strive to move home and try to help out as best as I can,” she smiles, thinking about how she wanted to do so earlier but becoming a parent changed her path. “My advice is don't be scared. You might have a culture shock but there's lots of support if you reach out,” she concludes.
Some of the things that made her journey more challenging was not being supported to pursue her education when she was in a serious relationship at the age of 18. Constant was asked to put her dreams on hold until their family was more financially stable. Ultimately, she decided that nothing was going to hold her back from bettering herself and becoming a role model for her children and she went back to school anyways.
She has a different perspective on school now compared to when she was in high school. “When I was a teenager, I definitely wish someone would have told me how important doing your homework was, and how it does affect your grade and it also makes you disciplined for college,” she laments. Constant wishes someone had encouraged her not to take time off of college, because she lost her routine and found returning harder when she had to integrate her studies with family responsibilities.
When it comes to maintaining balance and wellness, Constant recommends leaving breathing room and time for study breaks to clear one's head and exercise, even just for a walk. Venting about challenges to friends is another strategy she recommends and asking for help from instructors because they want their students to succeed. “Remain in your faith or spirituality, as sometimes it can feel like you're really alone and it gets overwhelming. But God the Creator is always there waiting to embrace you and help you not to feel alone,” she urges.
For inspiration and to fuel her drive, Constant reflects on the way her people have been stereotyped negatively and strives to be a good representation of her people. She likes to prove people wrong with her wisdom and knowledge, speaking up without being rude and standing up for what she believes in.
Something she believes in is her passion for where she’s from. She loves her community and one day it is her dream to come back. Working as a medical receptionist, an optometrist assistant, an administrative assistant and getting her diploma in accounting all helped her learn things that will help her give back when she returns. Becoming a mother got her on the path to bettering herself and Victoria Constant’s looking forward to bettering her community in the future, bringing back the all those lessons so she can be a blessing.
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.