Profiles of Aboriginal Educators banner

Jennifer Henry – Ozhaawash Kobinesiikwe

September 2017

Jennifer Henry – Ozhaawash Kobinesiikwe photo

  • Home Community:
    Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation
  • Cultural Identity:
  • Current Position:
    Teacher, 7 Oaks School Division
  • Education/Training:
    University of Winnipeg, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education.
  • Roles/Responsibilties:
    Grade 4/5 Multi-age classroom teacher at Elwick Community School. I plan, teach, and engage students with our curriculum, and use my experiences as an Indigenous person to teach cultural awareness and respect. I am also a member of our Indigenous Education Committee, and a guest educator for Treaty Days celebrations within the division.
“There are many paths to the right path, and no one else can decide on the right path for you.”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
As a child, I experienced a lot of racism growing up in small town Manitoba, from both my teachers and classmates. When my family moved to Winnipeg in Fall 1999, I had a lot of trouble adjusting to a new way of life within the city. I developed an Anxiety Disorder and struggled with Anxiety and Depression throughout my teens. School was an escape and the route which provided me with the opportunity to reconnect with my culture. Reconnecting with my culture gave me the strength to move forward with my life.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
I was always frustrated with my teachers, who would argue with me about the heritage of my people. I saw a lot of gaps within the curriculum that excluded perspectives like mine, I wanted to give kids who looked like me a voice in school. My high school Drama Teacher – James Hickerson – encouraged me to go into education and provided me with opportunities to hone my skills throughout my high school experience.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
There were a lot of barriers for me during University that were frustrating, and I often thought about leaving the Faculty of Education. Staying with the program and becoming a teacher is by far the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. There is nothing like hearing your students of every cultural background use Annishinabemowin and realizing how far we’ve come.

Message of Encouragement:
There are many paths to the right path, and no one else can decide on the right path for you. So walk forward with goodness in your heart, and you’ll change the world.