Success Stories

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Chelsea Brooks. My home community is Indian Brook, Nova Scotia.

When did you start painting? Did you have any formal training? What prompted/inspired you?

I first started painting at the age of two years old, and now I am twenty three years old. My dad taught me to draw and paint and to be as creative as I can. He was the best teacher a daughter could ask for. He has and always will continue to inspire and influence my artwork. He passed away this past May, and I have been making it my priority to carry on the art legacy that is a big part of our family. 

Where has your art been featured?

In grade two, I won second place at the Atlantic Aboriginal Art Contest in the children’s category. In the past few years, my dad and myself were artists in a native art group movement. We also had art shows at town hall and the Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax. This past year, I had the opportunity to help design the image that would go on shirts for the "Circle Of Hope" solidarity rally and press conference for missing and murdered aboriginal women. That event took place in Halifax, July 2014. 

This past October, I had the opportunity to have one of my paintings on the front cover of the "Canadian Aboriginal Books For Schools Catalogue" 2014-2015 edition. Twelve-thousand copies went out to schools across Canada. Recently I was contacted by CBC news radio to do a half hour interview for a radio show called Atlantic Voice. They titled my story "Her Fathers Spirit". I currently have artwork in different parts of the world such as Canada, USA, Europe, Australia, Japan.

What is your creative process?

My creative process begins with having the right frame of mind. I believe in doing good things and good will come back too you (the circle of life) - to be and stay positive. I then get ideas from being outdoors - looking at the sky. A lot of the time I will imagine my paintings in my mind, then I will plan out details and the colors I will use. I also believe that, when I paint, my dad guides me through each piece of art I create. I use acrylic paints, and spray paints is something I started adding to my paintings this past year.

What does your work mean to you?

My art work is very personal. 

Each time I create a painting, or make a custom painting for someone, I am giving you not only a painting, but I am also giving you my time, my energy, my thought process, my heart, and my soul. 

My love for painting grew much more this past year after my fathers passing, because I knew it meant the world to him, which makes it mean the world to me. I will continue to express that with my art work.

What has been your greatest challenge and success so far?

My greatest challenge was losing my dad this past year, the one who always believed in everything I did and who was a big supporter of my art and got me in the door of the art world. After his passing I made this my main priority, and I work hard for where I am trying to get to with my art goals. Any opportunity I see or am offered, I go for it. My greatest success so far has been getting to where I am in the art world at a young age. I am thankful and blessed and know there is more to come in my future. 

What are your plans for the future? 

My plans and goals for my future would be to have an online website where you can browse and purchase art. I currently do sales through my Facebook page, over emails, and at events. I would love to create a children’s book with my images that would be written in both Mi'kmaq and english and put into schools. My dad encouraged this so I know I will want to do this at some point in my life. 

Also, in the new year I plan to have my artwork put on shirts, and I am in the works of creating something beautiful for the ladies. My mom and I are going to work on this project together, so stay tuned!

How does one purchase a piece of your work?

I currently sell prints, paintings, custom orders, post cards, Christmas cards, gift bags, and more. I sell them at various events, over email at artworkbychelsea@gmail.com, and through my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/chelseabrooksnativeart 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this, and to those who encourage me and my dreams! Remember, spread love through the power of positive thinking & positive energy.

Thanks, Chelsea! Best of luck!

Over the next few months we'll be sitting down with 2014 Grade 12 graduates from MK schools across the province and getting to know what they loved about most about learning in their community, what they learned on their journey to a high school diploma, and their future plans and aspirations.

This month, meet Karlee Johnson, a grade 12 student at Chief Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, and a member of the first graduating class of the province's first Mi'kmaq Immersion Program.

What is your name, age, school, and what community are you from?

My name is Karlee Johnson from Eskasoni First Nation. I am eighteen years old, attending Chief Allison Bernard Memorial High School.

What clubs, teams, or groups are you involved in at school, and after-school?

I have been involved on the school’s Eskasoni Girls Volleyball team since the tenth grade. I have also been involved with the Rotary Interact Club since the eleventh grade where I am presently elected as president. 

Since September of twelfth grade, I have made my commitment to the school’s Health Club Committee, and also NADACA’s Peer helpers. 

After school, I am the leading Coordinator for the Peer Math tutoring program for students in junior high. It takes place every week on Thursdays, and usually ranges for about two hours.

What’s your favourite subject in school?

One of the subjects that has always appealed to me in particular is Mathematics. As I advanced to a higher grade each year, my mother always made sure to tell me that Math had always been like a whole different language. 

In sixth grade, I took her theory into consideration and I’ve always strived to the best of my ability to read that “language”. I always expected to get a more complex question than the one that was assigned but that was not always the case. 

I continued this attitude throughout my years in junior high, and paid more attention, especially when I got into High School. I was taught lessons in math from simple multiplication, algebra, to orders of operation, and the answers all came together easier, when you learned and understood the new math terms. This habit of practice allowed me to cope and learn the new work assigned. 

In eleventh grade, the substitution method with three equations always frightened me since everyone had always warned me that the answer would be a page long. When I came around to learn it, I thought it wasn’t so bad and made a perfect mark on the midterm exam that year. 

From these experiences with math, I continue to try my best and aim for perfect marks in all of my quizzes, tests and exams. I know that I will continue this attitude not only in Mathematics, but also in all other subjects I take in the future.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

The thought of choosing to go anywhere in the world is a difficult question. I know that when I get older, I will choose my own vacations and the destinations I would like to see. However, having to choose on a particular destination on the spot is difficult, as I would have to consider the environment, economics, and people. 

So, if I could choose to be anywhere in the world, I would choose to be somewhere beyond the world. I would like to experience a place where I would be happy, and satisfied. Wherever this place may be, I would like to go there.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, doing lawn work, jogging, and enjoying my time with friends around a bon fire. I also sometimes enjoy watching television shows in my living room at home and just relaxing.

What are your plans for when you graduate, and why? What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?

My main goal in life is most importantly be completely satisfied and happy. The fact of graduating from high school should not be one of the biggest accomplishments of life, but rather it should be the initial step towards your future goal. 

I have always wanted to pursue a career in medicine, which is why I will be studying Bachelor of Science in Medical Sciences at the Dalhousie University in September. One of the steps of my journey is to complete the first year of university the way that I have it planned. I have been taught enough lessons to know that I have the responsibility, and independence to make this goal happen. If I am completely satisfied with pursuing a career in medicine within the four years of the undergraduate program, then I will likely apply for medical school. 

Ten years from now, whatever I may choose to become whether if it’s a x-ray technician, a general practitioner or an orthopedic surgeon, I want to be happy. 

Being happy is one of the key aspects in living a successful life, and I believe it is important for everyone to enjoy life in whatever they may choose to be in the future.

If you could be anything at all, what would you be?

If I could be anything at all, I would choose to become a bird. I say this because I have always wanted to fly and always wanted to see the things birds may see during their flights.

Do you have a role model? If so, who? And why?

My role model is not in fact one person, but it involves two people. These two people have helped me during my journey of life such as school from day care, to the twelfth grade. They have always been there to teach me the facts of life, and what it means to be independent and responsible. Their constant encouragement to pursue a desired goal in my life remains their top priority. They know that when I succeed, they succeed. 

They have taught me things such as how to speak, how to not be shy, and most importantly, how to respect others. Many of these teachings included speaking to me in my First Nation language, Mi’kmaq, which I am fluent. These lessons of course are only few of what they have taught me. I am proud to say that these two people are my parents.

What is your best memory from your high school years?

The best memory of high school has definitely been the time when I entered the Rita Joe art contest. I put in all my effort, and knowledge towards this particular art project that I entered in the contest. It was my first year of high school, and I had been off to Track and field that day. I won first place, and I felt so honored. Although I was not present to collect my prize that day, my parents were called up to accept my prize for me. They were also very proud of me.

What is the best thing about your school? Who has made an impact on you?

The best thing about my school is the support system that exists. The teachers are able to support the students as they are the ones who impact the child and are seen as the ones who share their knowledge. Children take in the knowledge, which leads them towards their future goals. 

The one person who has impacted me the most is my principal, Newell Johnson. She has treated me with such respect and genuine care that just motivated me to try to excel in everything I did. 

I can also say that each and every one of my teachers that have taught me from each grade have also taught me something in their own way.

Is there something you'd like to see in your school or community that isn't there now? 

I would probably like to see a support group with students that is coordinated by someone who is trained. This support system would help children not only through their academics, but through life things such as self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-being. I believe that this would be beneficial for the child as this would help them in becoming an adult and to help them to succeed in the real world.

You’re graduating from the immersion program. What valuable experience/tools have you gained from being in this program? How do you think it will help you in the future? Do you think it’s important for more students to be enrolled in the program? What was your favourite part? Is there anything you think could be improved in it? 

From being in the immersion program, I have gained self-confidence, and I have also learned the importance of respecting your elders. I also learned the prayers in Mi’kmaq including the Our father, Hail Mary and Apostle’s Creed. I can also say that I am able to read, write and speak in our First Nations language. 

With these key elements that I have learned from the program, I am hoping to use them towards my future when speaking to my people in my community. Whatever career path I choose, I will be able to convert my knowledge from English to Mi’kma’q to help those who know the language. This will help me, especially if I travel from one First Nation community to another. 

In my opinion, I believe it is very important to enroll a child in the immersion program. However, there are certain guidelines and responsibilities that have to be followed as a guardian/parent. The parent has to be prepared to help their children with their homework, their spelling, and the words that they have to learn that day. You cannot just leave it up to the child to be able to observe the information, especially at the young age. I could say that I definitely had the support from my parents during the program, which is why I had become one of the successful students during this program. The child will indeed need guidance, and assurance to make them achieve their successes. 

My favorite part about the program, was learning new Mi’kma’q songs each day and singing them with our classmates. Although I do not have a singing voice, I was still able to learn new tunes as well as sing them too. 

I believe that there is nothing that I would change about the program. However, the key element of having the child enrolled within this program is to be able to help them when they are in need. Even if the parents do not speak the language, they should still be able to help their child to the best of their ability. 

The only thing that needs to be improved is that parents cannot just expect their children to be masters of the first nation language when they are in the program; the parents have to help in reaching out to their language.

Ta’n tujiw eymanek Immersion Program, keknu’tumuksiekip ta’n teli kepmite’lsin aqq elt ta’n tel mekite’lmjik kisiku’k. Eknu’tumksiekip elt ta’n teli lnui alasutamamk. Wujjiek, Kulein Ma’li, aqq Wel ketlamsitasi eknu’tmuksiekitip. Kis tlueyitis elt natawi lnui kijey, lnui wi’kikey, aqq elt natawi lnui’si. Ta’n koqoey kis kinu’tmuksi la’ program, elapi elmi’knik aqq etawey kis wli lnui’sin ta’n tujiw klulkik kikamanaq wutaniminiw. Ta’n te’sik koqoey kisi kina’masi aklasiewe’kati ta’n tujiw kisukweyan, apoqnmuamatis kikamanaq ta’n tel kjijitekey klamann nsituitaq lnuiktuk. Wli apoqnmuitew la ta’n tujiw ala’sian pilewe’l lnu we’kati’l. 

Ta’n ni’n telite’tm, ajipjulk wen wikama’jl ika’lan Immersion Program. Katu na’sik, etekl na tplu’taqnn ta’n amujpa majukwatmin ta’n tujiw kisita’sin ika’lan ikinijan u’t program. Amujpa apoqnmuatisk ta’n tujiw pekisitoq lukwaqnn, ta’n teli lnui wi’kikej, aqq elt ta’n klusuaqnn amujpa nenkl wjit na’kwek. Mu na’ pasik kisi ilita’sualawt kinijan jijitimin aqq nenimin msit koqoey ta’n kis kina’muksit. Ni’n katu kis tluetisk nujjewijik wel kina’muipni’k ta’n tujiw eymanek la program. Mawi kesatmap ni’n lnui ketapikey ta’n tujiw eymanek. Ekna’muksiekipnil tapikiaqnn newtipunkek, aqq ni’n kesatmap welqatm. Mu katu ni’n kis tluew ta’n koqoey ni’n aja’tmus wjit Mi’kma’q Immersion program. Ajipjulkik pasik skwijinu’k apoqnmuatinew wikamawaq klaman kelu’kw kis tla’taqititaq.

Words of advice, a personal favourite quote, or a thank-you?

“Kisiku’k telua’tijik, “Kelu’kw na’ tla’teken, mu nuta’nuk kinuwa’lsin, jiju’lten ki’s’”. Elders say “If you are doing well, you do not have to brag nor do you have to tell everyone, they will already know.”

I would like to continue to thank my parents, my family, and to the teachers who have supported me throughout high school.

Thanks, Karlee! Best of luck in the future!

 

Over the next few months we'll be sitting down with 2014 Grade 12 graduates from MK schools across the province and getting to know what they loved about most about learning in their community, what they learned on their journey to a high school diploma, and their future plans and aspirations.

This month, meet Gideon Doucette.

What is your name, age, school, and what community are you from?

My name is Gideon Isaiah Doucette and I am 18 years of age. I live in Potlotek and I am attending Potlotek High School.

What clubs, teams, or groups are you involved in at school, and after-school?

I am on the student council at Potlotek High School. I am also a Chief Warrant Officer with 2842 L'Ardoise Legion Engineering army cadets. 

I’m a drummer and I teach some of the children at the Mi'kmawey School here in Potlotek. I am also a Firefighter with the Potlotek Volunteer Fire Department. 

What’s your favourite subject in school?

My favorite subject has to be Art 12. In art we can be free and can draw what we like in a comfortable environment. 

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

If I could go anywhere in the world I would like to go down to the United States. I would visit family members there and go do my own little thing. 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I do my homework and play video games like any other teenager.

What are your plans for when you graduate, and why? What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?

I think I will either join the military or become a RCMP officer so I can travel. I would like to be one of the two so I can help people that need the help. But, I don't see myself in ten years just yet!

If you could be anything at all, what would you be? 

“If I could be anything at all, I would be a great role model to the youth.”

Do you have a role model? If so, who? And why?

My role models are my parents because they have always told me, "Kwis, don't give up on yourself. Be what you want to be." 

And I am - I am signing up for the military. It’s what I wanted to do since I was young.  

What is your best memory from your high school years?

“Actually, my best memory from my high school years has to be failing Grade Nine. 

Ever since I failed Grade Nine, I have learned not to mess up in school anymore. 

Now I’m graduating from high school because I learned from my mistake.” 

What is the best thing about your school?

The best thing about my school is that it's right here on the reserve. 

Also, I like that our hours are 3:00 pm - 8:00 pm, unlike other schools that run between 8:30 am - 2:30 pm. It helps students that aren't morning people because they’re already awake by time they come to school and they’re energized to learn what the teachers are going teaching. 

Who has made an impact on you?

The person who has impacted me while attending this school has to be my teacher Roland McCarthy. He always gets after us for getting our homework done and to study for exams. 

Is there something you'd like to see in your school or community that isn't there now? 

I would like to see Potlotek High School get their own building. We are currently using two buildings for our classes. I think it would be easier on the students, especially in the winter time and during the rain, so they don't have to walk out in the cold or get wet going between the two buildings. 

Words of advice, a personal favourite quote, or a thank-you?

Don't give up on your dreams. 

Pay attention in school so you can get an education to get a job in this world. 

I messed up in grade nine, and I learned from it. 

If the work is tricky, ask for extra help. Anybody can do it if they put their mind into it. 

I have quite a few people to thank. First, I would like to thank all my teachers that have taught me in school - especially Camilla Currie. Camilla taught me in grades 4-6 and she has never given up on me or my classmates. Camilla wasn't just a teacher to me, she was like a mother to me, and she still is.  

Thanks, Gideon! Best of luck in the future!

Over the next few months we'll be sitting down with 2014 Grade 12 graduates from MK schools across the province and getting to know what they loved about most about learning in their community, what they learned on their journey to a high school diploma, and their future plans and aspirations.

This month, meet Lateesha Denny.

What is your name, age, school, and what community are you from?

My name is Mary Lateesha Marie Denny and I am 18. I currently go to school at Wagmatcookewey School and live in Wagmatcook.

What clubs, teams, or groups are you involved in at school, and after-school?

I am in a group called Rainbows, a group about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual) that supports equal rights. I am also in an after school program for CBU called Business Network for Aboriginal Youth.

What’s your favourite subject in school?

My favourite subject is math because I’m good at it!

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

If I could go anywhere in the world I would go to Vancouver, B.C., because there is a fashion design university there that I would love to see and go to.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I like to read, bake, cook, play piano, and play with my Godchild.

What are your plans for when you graduate, and why? What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?

I plan on going to CBU after I graduate for my BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration), because I like business and I would like to own my own business someday. 

In ten years I see myself owning my own business, either a bakery or fashion design.

If you could be anything at all, what would you be?

If I could be anything at all, I would be an Eagle, because they represent love and freedom.

Do you have a role model? If so, who? And why?

My Role model is my Kiju (my Grandma). My Kiju is my Fathers Mother (Kiju means Mother in Mi'kmaq). 

She is my role model because she was a very strong woman and everyone who knew her had so much respect for her.

What is your best memory from your high school years?

My best memory from my high school years would be when I went to Winnipeg for E-Spirit in grade 10. I went with a few of my fellow students and four of our teachers.

What is the best thing about your school?

My favourite thing about my school is that we only have around 180 students from Kindergarten to grade 12. There is not many people in our school, so we are all pretty close. 

Who has made an impact on you?

My teachers have made the greatest impact on me. Since we are a small school, our teachers are always there for us when we need them. 

Is there something you'd like to see in your school or community that isn't there now? 

I would like to see less bullying in our junior high school grades. 

Words of advice, a personal favourite quote, or a thank-you?

My advice to anyone is to follow your dreams and remember who is there for you when you need them. Remember you are not alone, and that there will always be someone there who loves you and will help you out on your journey. 

A quote I would like to share with you, that I will never forget is,

“Try to be the crab that gets out of the bucket." 

-Candy Palmater, The Candy Show.

I would like to thank my parents, friends, teachers, principal and Chief for always helping me when I needed them and for believing me. I could not have gone this far without them, so thank you all. 

Also, thank you, MK, for letting me share my story. 

Thanks, Lateesha! Best of luck in the future!

High school graduation rates among Mi’kmaq students in Nova Scotia peaked at 87.7 per cent in 2012-13. Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey released its annual report at the annual general assembly in Dartmouth on October 4.

The report highlights MK’s work during the 2012-13 academic year and focuses on its core areas of activity: elementary and secondary education, post- secondary education, performance measurement, the Atlantic Canada First Nation Help Desk; Mi’kmaq language, special education; sports, health and wellness; and the First Nation School Success Program.

More than 500 Mi’kmaq students were enrolled in post-secondary education, up 25 per cent since 2011-12. Eighty-four students successfully graduated from post-secondary institutions. Literacy, numeracy, school attendance and student retention rates in elementary and secondary schools continued to rise. 

MK executive director Eleanor Bernard believes they have a self-governance model of education that works, and others are noticing.

“We’ve celebrated many years of Mi’kmaq education success in Nova Scotia,” Bernard said. “While we always look to improve, it’s important that we pause, reflect and appreciate the long way we’ve come.”

Efforts to maintain and revitalize the Mi’kmaq language remained strong in 2012-13 through the introduction of Mi’kmaq language classes in communities, the integration of Mi’kmaq language web-based courses in MK high school curriculum, and a pilot certification course for Mi’kmaq language speakers to teach non- speakers.

This past June, a state-of-the-art and culturally relevant school opened in Wagmatcook with National Chief Shawn Atleo attending the opening ceremonies. Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey has undertaken an initiative involving a system that monitors strategies and goals for schools and creates educational support statistics such as graduation, attendance and retention rates. Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk continued to provide technology-related resources to First Nation schools in Atlantic Canada, including fibre optics connectivity, safe Internet feeds, videoconferencing networks, and youth employment opportunities.

Construction has begun on a Grade P-6 school in Membertou and a gymnasium in Eskasoni. In the coming year, construction will begin on an education and cultural centre in Potlotek, and the first class of the Mi’kmaq language immersion program will graduate from Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni.

MK chair Chief Leroy Denny said the organization and its communities see Mi’kmaq student success as an expectation, not a hope.

“It’s our passion, leadership and partnership that allows us to explore new opportunities for students, and re-visit and enhance existing operations and programs,” Denny said.

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