I started school in a culturally and racially distinct community. My reflections revealed a social and academic system rooted in flawed policies and social misperceptions centered on race and equality. Most of the teachers came to the class only because it was their duty, and paid little attention to the people they were supposed to teach.
I didn’t learn anything.
In addition, I was grouped in with older students, and since I was one of the brighter ones in the class, this often led to conflict with other students, both inside and outside the classroom. I’m a very motivated individual, when it comes to learning. I constantly asked for homework to improve my learning, but was essentially ignored by the teachers. While my experiences were largely negative when it came to learning, I did experience some glimmers of light as I moved on to another school, but these were, in the most part, due to the dedication of a few teachers who did not accept the status quo when it came to the racial divide.
Still steeped in the restrictive attitudes then in place, I, without consultation with me or my parents, was told when I completed Grade 9 that I would finish my academic education and would be going to Community College to “take a trade”. Everything had all been “arranged” and I could have my choice of a limited number of vocations for which the authorities “deemed him suitable”.
I finally decided on a printing career, and after a two year program, and despite a limited academic background, successfully graduated and started my career in the printing business. The training program at that time was largely a hands-on method, and computerization had not yet been adopted in this industry. I did not have any problems getting work and through my first two employers, who recognized my skills and my attitude toward work, even learned to improve my reading, writing and math skills.
Seeking to improve my lot in life, I headed to a large central Canada city and was able to very quickly secure employment with a local printing firm. My skills soon became evident to the owner, who told me that I knew more about the printing business than he did and quickly adopted my skill sets in running the business. I remained in this city for about 23 years. Marriage to a woman from my community and three children later, I wanted to return to my home province and seek employment in a quieter and friendlier place.
My giving this all up and moving back to NS was not without worry and fear. After a few months back home, and with aspirations to seek trades training in another area, I realized I would have to upgrade to a GED level in order to gain acceptance to a community college. Despite a nervous start, I have applied myself vigorously and am concentrating on areas where I know I have deficiencies.
Every story usually comes full circle, and I’m no exception. I continue to progress in GED, and, through a local employment initiative program with a cultural focus. Buoyed by an innate confidence built on my struggles, I am still a very positive individual. My interests, past and present, are deeply rooted in a spiritual belief and a passion as a musician. My focus now is on my relationship with my wife and children, particularly my older son, who is now involved in sports in the local community.
I admit that things have improved over the years with respect to social acceptance of the “culturally different”, but still experience some resistance and my great hope is that my children will grow up in a kinder and gentler world.
I know I will succeed in my latest journey of learning.