I was born in St. Anthony, Newfoundland. I lived in a fishing village until I was six. Then my mom and dad moved back to St. Anthony. My dad got work at the fish plant. I started school in September in St. Anthony. I had already done grade 1 in the fishing village. I told the teacher and principal that I already did grade 1, but they didn't believe me. I did grade 1 over again. From grade 2 to grade 6, I failed every year and I would be doing the same grade over. Then they finally put me on to the next grade.
The last year in school, I started in September and in October I had German measles. When Mom got the family allowance, mine was gone. The principal phoned in and got it cut off. Then I quit school.
I didn't have a good childhood growing up. It wasn't good at home or at school. I grew up with violence at home. My brother and I were very close growing up. I guess the reason was it was just the two of us. We had another brother and sister but my sister spent her time in the hospital. She didn't come home to stay until she was 7. Our brother died at 4 years of age. He just laid there and couldn't move, sit up, or talk.
At school the students looked down on me because I was poor and couldn't learn. I didn't think I could work because I was put down so much growing up. I did baby-sit and I wasn't fussy over that.
Then I got a cleaning job in St. John's, Newfoundland, working in the hospital. I worked there for awhile, then came home to draw my unemployment. I was home for awhile, and then I came out to Nova Scotia. I got work cleaning houses.
I was doing good here in Halifax. I met my husband here. He was from Newfoundland, too. We went home and got married. I had 3 children born there. I worked a couple of times at the shrimp plant on a work-mate program, but mostly I was a stay-at-home mom. My children grew up and are now on their own. I have 2 grandchildren, but you can actually say I have 3 grandchildren. I will always be nanny to them.
My husband and I came back to Nova Scotia and this is where we are staying. I was looking for part-time work, but couldn't find any. I went in to the Native Council, because I am part native. My case worker asked me about going to school. I said I didn't want to go but then I said yes. I'm happy I did. Now I know I can learn. I still have lots of trouble in math, but I am learning how to do it with Cathy's help. I went from level 1 to level 2. My level 2 teacher is Mary. The 2 teachers tell me I am smart. I didn't think I was because I was put down all the time. I did get a part-time job at the Native Council cleaning the offices. I am doing excellent at my job, according to my supervisor. She gives my report to Cathy, my Employment Readiness instructor.
I am happy I started school. I really enjoy going, and I have more friends now. I am going for my grade 12. With the teachers' help, I will get there.
By Elvida A.