Indigenous Excellence

Linda Smith

April 2011

Linda Smith Photo

  • Home Community:

    Winnipeg, Manitoba

  • Cultural Identity:
  • Current Position:
    Instructor, Lord Selkirk Park Adult Learning Program
  • Education/Training:

    Diploma in Developmental Services, Introduction to Teaching Adults RRC,
    Level 1 Certificate Introduction to Teaching Literacy.

  • Roles/Responsibilty:
    Instructor, and currently involved in implementing an Aboriginal Adult Learning Circle with the Advanced Education and Literacy Department.
“Continuous learning needs to be part of our daily life”
What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
I became a single mother at the age of 19 and was blessed with a son. I met my soul mate at the age of 23 and was married a year later. We expanded our family to include a daughter and another son. My husband and I spent 37 years together and sometimes struggled to ensure that our children were provided with opportunities that would help them to become successful. My children have grown into responsible adults and now have families of their own. My oldest son is a social worker, my daughter is a manager at one of the casinos in Manitoba and my youngest son works in the sheet metal industry. He has followed his father’s trade. Together, my children have provided me with one grandson and five granddaughters. Unfortunately, I lost my husband Peter to colon cancer in 2010 and am now on a journey learning how to be one.

Because I did not have an education and quit school in grade 10, I worked in manufacturing plants at various positions. When I was laid off from my job I had the opportunity to return to school. I always wanted to get an education because no one in my family had ever obtained a secondary education. I was unsure of what I wanted to do but I knew that I wanted to help people. It was a very difficult time for me. I had no idea of what to expect and I also found it very intimidating. Obtaining an education was not a priority because working always seemed to take precedence.  I spent three years learning and finally graduated in 1996 with a diploma in Developmental Services.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
I was born into a Métis family that consisted of five boys and six girls. My father served in the Second World War and was unable to seek employment due to the injuries he obtained as a soldier. My mother was the glue that kept us together. She was the positive role model in my life and I credit her with providing the tools I needed to succeed in life.

In 2001 I began working for the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation as an instructor in the Learning Centre. I believe I was blessed with this job because from the first day I entered the classroom, I knew I had found my purpose in life. I loved my job instantly and I felt honoured that the learners allowed me to be a part of their educational journey. I was determined to educate myself continuously and provide my learners with the tools that they would need to be successful. I now work at the Lord Selkirk Park Adult Learning Program as an instructor.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
I have worked in adult education for ten years and have seen many learners overcome many obstacles to obtain their education. I have watched them become empowered and make good decisions for their own lives so that they too can have all their hopes and dreams come true. We as educators have the skills and resources to pass onto our learners. This is an honour which I cherish every day.  Literacy is such an empowering tool.

Message of Encouragement:
Look to your elders for guidance. They are the ones that have experienced life. Don’t give up on your dreams and always remember that knowledge is the key to the many doors that we need to open throughout our life. Give yourselves time to learn. Continuous learning needs to be part of our daily life.