Writing the way
I completed the first draft of my first fellowship application and thought I would share it with you all so you could know more about me, where I'm coming from and where I'd like to be. Here it is:
The impact of my personal history on my career and education has been tremendous. I originally set out to become a Marine Biologist and over the years, life’s twists and turns have moved me forward to a career in Social Justice. As a matter of fact, after my mother’s death, 6 months away from receiving my bachelor’s degree, I almost gave up on education completely. Thankfully, before it was too late, I realized that I just needed to adjust my focus.
This shift resulted in a wonderful opportunity to coordinate a culture-based harm reduction pilot project for Public Service Canada. The beneficiaries of this program were Aboriginal youth-at-risk in the Fraser Valley. In addition to the honour of living amongst the Sto:Lo people, the project afforded me the opportunity to immerse myself fully into a subsistence lifestyle; share the teachings I carry; further develop my understanding of intercultural communications and gain on-the-ground experience in community development.
Upon successful completion of the pilot project, I was honoured to obtain a position at the renowned organization: West Coast Environmental Law. Unfortunately, less than a year later my marriage collapsed and I returned to Victoria with nothing but my two children and the clothes on our backs. I was 2 months away from turning 40, homeless and solely responsible for the wellbeing of two children. It was an extremely challenging transition for all 3 of us, particularly when my resources were completely depleted, I was unemployed and we were forced to survive on Social Assistance.
Determined not to let the situation define me, I chose to seek out every possible program, workshop and volunteer opportunity that I would provide me with additional skills and knowledge related to non-profit management, service provision, and fundraising. I also participated in Bridges Employability Program to ensure that I allowed myself to address the many issues I was faced with as a survivor of domestic violence, rape and systemic violence.
It has been just over 4 years since I started over and I have a great part-time job at the South Island Dispute Resolution Centre. I am hoping to secure additional fund development contracts to supplement my income as we are still living below the poverty line. The past 4 years have been extremely influential on my career and education choices: had I not started over, I would never have had the experiences and opportunities that arose and I may never have become interested in gender issues.
My current family, work and educational responsibilities are as follows:
a. I am raising 2 kids (8 & 11 years) completely on my own
b. I coordinate 2 schools, 2 concerts, 2 meet the teacher etc.
c. Twice a week I need to transport my daughter to the READ Society for individual tutoring
d. Currently working 30 hours a week and seeking an additional 5- 10 hours work per week
e. 15 hours study required per week
f. Travel to India twice during the course of study to fulfill the residential requirements of the program
I intend to study systemic violence, globalization and the common issues experienced by urban First Nations women in Victoria, British Columbia and urban women in New Delhi, India. This work will also illustrate how community based research can be used to overcome common issues by providing a safe space for women to speak. Ultimately, this empowers the women to solve problems in unforeseen ways and create change for entire communities. I will also use this work to share snippets of my own story of marginalization and subjugation as an urban Aboriginal woman.
My work will focus on two groups of urban women: local First Nations and those from New Delhi, India. This work will directly benefit local women through development of programs and resources to address their needs as identified through the research: participants from India will benefit similarly and I am certain that there are many benefits that I am unable to forecast.
Since my childhood, I have dreamed of travelling abroad to assist communities in the developing world move toward more abundant lives and this dream has also impacted my educational choices. The establishment of the new Master of Arts in International Community Development at the University of Victoria clearly indicates that my goals and values are in-sync with current trends in academia and the development community as well.
An additional benefit of this program is that I will fulfill another dream by travelling to India to complete the residential requirements of the program. Over the 2 year course of study I will spend one month in New Delhi working with the University’s partner organization Participatory Research In Asia (PRIA). As my children are still quite young, it will be a number of years before I am free to travel abroad to work and at such time as travel becomes an option, I will already have the international experience I will require to obtain meaningful work in a developing country. I do not intend to make any of these excursions until after my son’s high school graduation in 2019.
In addition to the direct beneficiaries of the research, my affiliation with the British Columbia Transition House Society could possibly see the benefits of the work be seen by all women fleeing abuse in British Columbia. Additionally, through my work with the Centre for Partnership and Civic Engagement in Nairobi, Kenya; JaaJa ‘s Home for Angels in Jinja, Uganda and Henrich Fortune (presidential candidate in Haiti the product of the research will disseminated far and wide.
Life has definitely prepared me for the chosen course of study, particularly through the events of the last 4 years. I have been both a service recipient and a service provider; I am a mixed blood Cree and the personal experiences as detailed in section 1 have lead me to the violence against women sector. Upon graduation from the program, I intend to fully immerse myself into a local First Nations Women’s empowerment program, which is currently in its infancy, here in Victoria. This joint effort between the local First Nation, South Island Dispute Resolution Centre, restorative justice trainers and our local mental health unit, holds the promise of creating the foundation community for the research portion of my degree program and the opportunity to implement and duplicate the program for use in other communities.
There you have it. I welcome any constructive criticsm, insights or ideas you may have. Especially if you're familiar with fellowship applications ;)
With much appreciation,