As an Inuk boy growing up in Nunavut, John did not have the opportunity for a high school education. The only son in a family of three children, he was obligated to work alongside his father hunting and trapping to help support the family.
While in his 20’s John managed to complete grade 10. This led to job opportunities with the water and sewage department in the Hamlet of Kugluktuk. But John always knew that more education would increase the chances of better work prospects. Sadly, John’s life was derailed over the years as he fell into addiction and trouble with the law.
While staying at the John Howard Society in Ottawa last year, John learned about The Ottawa Mission’s Stepping Stones Learning Centre, and began the final steps in a journey that had taken 39 years. Working 2 days a week for sixteen months in our small classroom, he received instruction from our teacher and also accumulated co-op credits from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). Throughout his journey, John has been grateful for the support and encouragement he has received from the three partners who were always by his side – the John Howard Society, the OCDSB, and The Mission.
John is also a regular volunteer at St. Margaret’s Church where he helps prepare and clean up before and after their weekly Inuktitut service.
All of John’s hard work and determination led to one of the most important days in his life – June 8, 2017 – when at a special ceremony at the OCDSB’s Continuing Education Building, he was among a group of adults who officially received their high school diplomas!
For John, seeing people from The Mission and from St. Margaret’s in the audience at his graduation was very special. “I never thought this day would come, and I feel proud and confident about the future. I have hope.”