This week I attended the Vancouver Island University Teaching and Learning Conference and had the pleasure in attending many workshops & presentations. Once workshop that I want to focus on in this moment was by Janet Sinclair & Brain Walker called “Telling our Story: Indigenous Portfolio Development” about IRLP 100 (Indigenous Learning and Recognition Portfolio). I was interested in this workshop as I have many students who are taking this, while taking classes with me. Students come out of IRLP 100 transformed. They become confident in self, supportive in others & have a clear vision of their future.

Janet & Brian gave an overview of the course of the course and had the participants do ‘mini’ versions of some of the activities that are in the class. Once in particular stuck with me. They asked us to think of a transformative moment in our life and then determine what we learned from it. I have to admit, I panicked a little at the question, but was quickly able to think of a moment in time. When I was 16, I traveled to Switzerland with my cousin to visit family. The whole trip changed me, moments throughout the trip are etched in to brain & soul but there was one experience that has continued to define me.

At the end of the trip, when it was time to go, my family said “you’ll be fine” and sent me on my way home. Alone I had to catch a tram down the mountain they lived on, caught a train to Paris, walked from the train station to my hotel, overnight-ed at the hotel, caught a cab to the metro, the metro to the airport & flew home all by myself. There were challenges along the way – my bags were heavy, but some kind people at a pub(!) held half my bags for me till I checked in to the hotel – I had lost my plane ticket & my french is poor. Somehow, it all was fine. It did all work out. I took one step at a time, and fixed any problem that I encountered.

I was left with a feeling that I could do anything that needed to be done. While I happily accepted help from others (the kindness of strangers can be a wonderful thing) I was fine on my own. I could and did survive & succeed.

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