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Melissa Muir – Apiscikakakes Iskwe
(Magpie Woman)

December 2019

Rachel Neil photo

  • Home Community:
    Selkirk, Manitoba
  • Cultural Identity:
    Métis
  • Current Position:
    Teacher at Ecole Selkirk Junior High in Selkirk, MB
  • Education/Training:
    University of Winnipeg – CATEP (Community access Aboriginal Teacher Education Program). Graduated 2018 – Honours with Distinction.
  • Roles/Responsibilties:
    Full time Grade 7 ELA & SS with an Indigenous focus.
“Take that risk! Also, to keep walking the good path – mino bimaadiziwin – showing kindness to others, our community and to ourselves can truly open opportunities for us.”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Mental illness (depression/severe anxiety) was the biggest obstacle that I had to overcome. My last years of university were the most challenging, as it was difficult to go to classes and keep up with assignments. I was having a breakdown every time I had to go to class and be in a catatonic-like state between classes. It was a dark period and I wanted to end it at times. I kept up a happy, confident façade, however that did not last. With support from my parents, I was able to get help from my doctor and counselors. I am extremely grateful, as I could not do it myself at that time and without that support I would not be where I am today.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
My twin sister, Jacqueline Bercier, was the one who inspired me to pursue a teaching career. We were both Educational Assistants at Ecole Selkirk Junior High (ESJH), when she started her journey to become an educator. I saw the determination and passion that she had which drove her to make a difference in the lives of students that we worked with daily. Her passion for Indigenous Education overflowed into everything that she did with her students, which made them more successful students and citizens of our community. I wanted that for myself, but I couldn’t pursue that dream until a few years later.

Also, I cannot forget the wonderful teachers that I worked with everyday at ESJH. Every day I was shown how to make connections with all types of students and how the teachers went out of their way to help a student become successful academically and as a good person overall. That is what I wanted to do; that is what I wanted to be. My teaching style, drive and passion is made up of little bits of everyone I have ever worked with and for that I am extremely grateful.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
To give myself permission to pursue this dream of mine, even though I would be older than most university students and trust that my family could survive more independently of me. I was ready to have a more challenging role in education. A huge decision for me, as my mental health was very fragile, but I figured it was now or never for me to start university.

Message of Encouragement:
A Tracee Ellis Ross quote that resonates with me, “I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be, to inspire me and not terrify me.” My advice: take that risk! Also, to keep walking the good path – mino bimaadiziwin – showing kindness to others, our community and to ourselves can truly open opportunities for us.