Profiles of Indigenous Educators banner

Phyllis Crow

May 2020

Cameron Flamand photo

  • Home Community:
    Naotkamegwanning First Nation (Whitefish Bay in Ontario)
  • Cultural Identity:
    Ojibwe
  • Current Position:
    Teacher at Crossroads Learning Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Education/Training:
    Bachelor of Education degree, One-year Post Baccalaureate in Education, and Vocational Industrial Teacher Education
  • Roles/Responsibilities:
    My roles and responsibilities vary from course to course. First, and foremost, is to deliver the courses I teach in a teacher-led classroom environment with many interactions between teacher and students. Students can come in with many issues; therefore, I must listen very carefully and direct students to people/organizations that can better help them. I also like to encourage and motivate students in order for them to succeed in their educational endeavors.
“Motivation to better our lives is in us to pursue. Don’t shut it out and don’t dwell on the negativity of your life, but instead reach out to it as this will allow you the ability to move forward!”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
There were many obstacles I faced when I first began my journey in the university world. I entered university without a grade 12 education but was accepted as a mature student. I was also a very shy and timid individual because of my past with alcoholism and abuse within the family structure. Without the knowledge on how to write essay papers was a huge undertaking, but I was persistent to become a better writer. Those F’s I received actually boosted my ego to do better. I bought myself a grammar book to help me with my writing, and the comments the professors’ made helped me to understand what I was doing wrong. Soon my writing became better, and it was well worth the tiring experience.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
Before I left my home community, I worked as a teacher’s aide and a preschool educator in a daycare centre. The late Brian Ranville was my inspiration to go after the teaching profession. I worked with Brian at a Native organization where he was the Executive Director, and he saw something in me and encouraged me to apply for a Native Teacher Program through the City of Winnipeg. I recall there were more than one hundred applicants but were accepting only eight. I was one of those selected. To this day, I often wonder what they saw in me?  The only educational training I had were from the courses offered through the daycare program.

In high school, I struggled with alcohol and everyday living, but I had two wonderful school counsellors who tried to steer me on the right path I remember one time asking one counsellor if I could sign up for the occupational program since all my friends were going into it. She said, “No! You are too smart for that.” I often recall that memory, as I believe it has helped to inspire me moving forward in my life.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
The critical choices and decisions that I have made to get where I am today was to quit the alcohol abuse. I also made the decision to follow the traditional Ojibwe life. My life has been more meaningful and more focused. As a result, I have a wonderful relationship with my sons and grandchildren.

Message of Encouragement:
Motivation to better our lives is in us to pursue. Don’t shut it out and don’t dwell on the negativity of your life, but instead reach out to it as this will allow you the ability to move forward! Many a time we are bombarded with negativity, which makes it difficult to succeed, but your persistence to overcome it will definitely be an everlasting effect all around.

.