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Steven C Richard

February 2020

Steven C Richard photo

  • Home Community:
    St. Laurent, Manitoba
  • Cultural Identity:
    Métis, French, Saulteaux
  • Current Position:
    Lord Selkirk School Division (LSSD) Indigenous Education Consultant / Counsellor
  • Education/Training:
    Bachelor of Social Work Degree 1995 University of Manitoba (Winnipeg Education Centre) 1986 to 1991 Financial Industry, Insurance and Money Management 1977 to 1986 Building Construction Industry, Northern First Nations, Métis communities.
  • Roles/Responsibilities:
    Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary High School, Indigenous Student Counsellor/ for First Nation and Métis Students and Facilitator/Promoting Aboriginal Student Success (PASS) and Divisional Indigenous Academic Achievement Advisor.
“Looking into the present, if there is still time, make the best of whatever your desire may be, if it is good, go do it!”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Being told, “Hide, they are coming”, once behind a cast iron stove, where it was very hot and another time when I was told to go hide in the bush till my granny came and found me. This was a time back when the Children’s Aid Society, were taking children away, which, I know now as the Sixties Scoop!

Then the separation of my mom and dad at the age of 8. They both attended residential day schools. Lots of alcohol and physical abuse occurred. Just after moving from up north to the north-end of the city of Winnipeg, we were placed in foster homes; my two brothers went to a couple with no children and I went to one with lots of children. It was there that the physical and emotional abuse continued. I once was taken to the Children’s Hospital. I remember after that going to the big courthouse with my foster mom and not going home with my dad that day. I can still see him leaving with one of my brothers but not me, I started to cry, “What about me?” It wasn’t until later he received full custody of us boys.

My dad became a single parent which was very rare back then and I took on the domestic cleaning and cooking to help my dad with my brothers.  I could cook a roast potatoes and vegetables by the end of age 9.

I remember our first day at our new school, no one came with us that day. We were walking through the playground staying close to each other as we made our way to the front doors and into the office, I can still hear the adults saying, “They have no parents with them.” That is one of many wounds that never goes away!  We were very scared.

There was also the time I got really sick with rheumatic fever at the age of 10.  I was hospitalized for most of grade 6, though I did complete home schooling thanks to my teacher Mr. Green. I passed my grade.

These and many more experiences must have given me lots of “empathy”, a virtue one needs today to connect with all ages of students and adults. And because of the hurt, I buried my emotional trauma deep inside me and focused on school until I was able to confront all the hurt which happened when I turned 22 and met my Creator. And then again later when I attended University.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
I believe the thought to become a teacher entered my mind in grade 9.  My social studies teacher was good at keeping me interested in what was next to learn about history and the world. He painted lots of pictures in my mind as he told stories. I developed a strong visual memory because of this.

It was then again, when I was 27 years of age when my father passed away when I heard an inner audible voice say “remember you wanted to be a teacher” I heard it come to me a number of times and just got louder over the next few years and finally it came through real loud “REMEMBER YOU WANTED TO BE A TEACHER!” It was then at the age of 29 I took it very seriously and set out to figure out how I was going to do that with a young family and married.

Though I did apply to the Faculty of Education, that inner voice told me to apply to the Faculty of Social Work as well. Low and behold I was accepted into Social Work. And upon graduation, I was hired in the field of education.

Just before graduating I was offered two positions, one to help one of our Indigenous Child and Family Services in restructuring their foster family department and a new position with LSSD which as far as I know was the first provincial model position as Native Education Consultant/ Counsellor which I chose. We now have many Indigenous Consultants / Counsellors in schools.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
At the age of 15 my dad re-married and made the decision to move back up north, he gave me the choice to stay in the city because I was entering high school. I was left by myself to find work after school and weekends and to find a place to stay which meant I had to pay my own room and board out of my earned money. I did just that and have been on my own since.

After my father’s passing, I decided it was time to go and pursue a University Degree. Nobody in my family had gone to University. Upon graduating, many family members have since graduated including our grandchildren.

Many times, I almost gave up advocating for Indigenous students, however I continued to encourage students to stay in school and to pursue a higher education, saying, “It will secure a better lifestyle for you and your family.” However, I noticed that so few are hired when they do apply! There are so few First Nation and Metis teachers. But as time passes, I am hopeful this will change, and especially the day our school divisions’ population equally reflects the Indigenous student - teacher ratio.

Message of Encouragement:
Looking back, I learned early in life older adults and elders are our story tellers and can be our wise council to turn to for guidance and hope.

Looking into the present, if there is still time, make the best of whatever your desire may be, if it is good, go do it!

Looking into the future, I see our children and their children benefiting from our good choices. It will help them all, to be strong, and to take on all circumstances.

May you be guided with hope in your Faith, Fitness, Family, Finances and Friendships.