Indigenous Excellence

Charles Willard Ettawacappo

September 2012

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  • Home Community:
    Norway House Cree Nation
  • Manitoba Cultural Identity: Swampy Cree (Ininiw)
  • Position:
    High School Teacher at Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre
  • Education/Training: Four Year Bachelor of Education Degree from Brandon University with Minors in Physical Education, Native and Social Studies
  • Roles/Responsibilty:
    I teach: Cree Language, Canada in the Contemporary World,
    Native Studies, and Current Issues in Aboriginal Studies
    (Grade 12)
“Know the importance of setting a goal and aiming high to succeed and most importantly, speaking out and being heard.”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
My journey started in 1994 by attending university in Brandon. Some of the obstacles that I had to face while attending university was being away from home, loneliness for family and friends, and missing out on the spring and fall hunting and fishing trips. To overcome these obstacles, I knew that once my studies were done, I could go back home and be employed and not have to worry about leaving home again. To combat the loneliness, I indulged in my studies and strived to succeed.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
I always remember saying that I was going to be a teacher in my high school years because Aboriginal teachers were very rare. The select few Aboriginal teachers we had in high school were very good role models and this is what really inspired me into becoming an Aboriginal Educator.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
One of the critical choices I made to help get me where I am today is that I spoke out when I knew that I was not going to graduate at the anticipated time. Initially, the High School offered 5 classes per term and told us that we can graduate in 2 years. However, the following year they went back to 4 classes per term, which meant that I would be short one subject to graduate. This was when I had a meeting with the high school administration to express my concern of how I was going to graduate within the 2 years due to the cutback of classes. They informed me that they were prepared to offer an extra course every other day after school in order for me to meet the graduation requirements. This meant a lot of work to reach my goal of obtaining my high school diploma within the 2 years. With this, I put in a lot of effort, time and commitment to my studies to be able to achieve my goal of becoming a teacher.

Message of Encouragement:
My message of encouragement is for people to know the importance of setting a goal and aiming high to succeed and most importantly, speaking out and being heard.