Indigenous Excellence

Frances Smith

June 2011

Frances Smith Photo

  • Home Community:
    Gimli, MB
  • Manitoba Cultural Identity: Cree/Ojibwe
  • Position:
    Elementary School Teacher with Winnipeg School Division
  • Education/Training: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor
    of Education
  • Roles/Responsibilty:
    To teach the curricular units and outcomes to my students in my class.
“You can do anything you want,
as long as you believe in yourself...”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
I grew up in a small community with a small number of Aboriginal people. I had little to no role models, especially Aboriginal role models. I also had little to no expectations from my family to succeed and to do better in school and in life.

I was also extremely shy and had very low self-esteem.  Even though I had good marks in high school, I didn’t think I could go on to university because no one in my family did that. I had to be the one to believe I could go to university, stay in school, and be successful.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
My friends were the ones who believed in me and encouraged me to keep going in high school. They were the ones who kept harassing me to go to university. My family was proud of my accomplishments, but they weren’t the ones who pushed me to do more.

After high school graduation, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I eventually realized that I was meant to do more in life than what I was currently doing. I eventually decided to go into the Education Program at University of Winnipeg. I didn’t have an aha moment of, ‘This is what I want to do!’. That moment came once I had been teaching for a few months. I realized that this is what I was meant to do and this is where I was meant to be.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
I think what helped me to be who and where I am today are my friends. They give me support, advice, and encouragement.  But in the end, I think the best choices I made were staying in school, doing well in school, and continuing my education beyond high school. I even went back to school part time to start my Post Baccalaureate in Special Education.

Message of Encouragement:
You can do anything you want, as long you believe in yourself and have people who also believe in you and will give you guidance and support.