Posts By: First Nations Drum

University of Saskatchewan Researchers Find Incidence of Epilepsy in Indigenous Population Double the National Average

Dr. Lizbeth Hernández-Ronquillo (left) and Dr. Jose Téllez-Zenteno, in front of Mexican artist Eduardo Urbano Merino’s painting Epilepsy, leaving the nightmare behind (2013), representing epilepsy surgery. (Photo by Daniel Hallen, University of Saskatchewan)

Dr. Lizbeth Hernández-Ronquillo (left) and Dr. Jose Téllez-Zenteno, in front of Mexican artist Eduardo Urbano Merino’s painting Epilepsy, leaving the nightmare behind (2013), representing epilepsy surgery. (Photo by Daniel Hallen, University of Saskatchewan)


SASKATOON – University of Saskatchewan (U of S) researchers have discovered that the incidence of epilepsy in the Canadian Indigenous population is twice that of non-Indigenous Canadians.

In a study published today in Seizure: European Journal of Epilepsy, a team of epidemiologists and neurologists led by Dr. Jose Téllez-Zenteno has established for the first time a Canadian national incidence rate of 62 new cases of epilepsy per 100,000 people per year. For self-identified First Nations patients, the rate is 122 per 100,000.

“We don’t have the exact reason for the difference in rate,” Téllez-Zenteno said. “Some other studies have shown higher rates of traumatic brain injury in Indigenous populations. Head trauma is correlated with epilepsy, so, we think that’s one of the factors.”

Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of brain activity can lead to seizures, he said.

“Until now, there has been very little epidemiology research done about Aboriginal peoples with epilepsy. Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition worldwide, but there are numerous gaps in knowledge,” said Dr. Lizbeth Hernández-Ronquillo, first author on the paper.

The research was also co-authored by U of S epidemiologist Dr. Lillian Thorpe and biostatistics professor Punam Pahwa.

While epilepsy can occur at any age, the U of S study data indicates that incidence tends to increase with age. Health problems such as strokes, dementia, and tumours that increase with age also increase the likelihood of epilepsy.

Using Saskatchewan health records from 2001 to 2010, the researchers combined information from three different databases to gather data on patients who were either hospitalized for epilepsy or had two physician visits with an epilepsy diagnosis. From demographic information, they were able to separately examine records from patients who self-identified as status First Nations people. The Saskatchewan data was then age-adjusted to be representative for all of Canada.

Overall, inequalities including socioeconomic circumstances and education may pose differences in epilepsy risk. Future studies should explore reasons accounting for these findings in order to make targeted changes in health provision, said Hernández-Ronquillo. Regardless of the health indicator explored, Canadian Indigenous peoples have been shown to suffer a disproportionate burden of illness with poor outcomes, she said.

Over the period of the study, the incidence of epilepsy was actually in decline in Canada. That trend matches that of other countries with universal healthcare. In countries without universal health care, the rate of epilepsy is increasing.

“Epilepsy is a disease, like diabetes in that it can be treated—it can be cured or controlled,” Hernández-Ronquillo said.

The paper can be found at:


2018 Indspire Awards Will Air in June on CBC and APTN

2018 Indspire Awards Will Air in June on CBC and APTN

The Indspire Awards will broadcast nationwide on Sunday, June 24 at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT) on CBC, and APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, including CBC radio.

This year’s ceremony is co-hosted by Darrell Dennis, award-winning comedian, actor, screenwriter and radio personality and Kyle Nobess, actor (Mohawk Girls) and international speaker. The show was taped in front of a live audience, including over 600 Indigenous youth, on March 23, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The show features performances by 2018 Juno-nominated, Indian City led by Vince Fontaine, 2018 Juno-nominated Sanikiluaq singer and songwriter, Kelly Fraser, dancer/choreographer, Santee Smith, Genie Award-winner for Best Achievement in Music, Jennifer Kreisberg, and classically trained Canadian cellist, Cris Derksen together with members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. 2005 Juno-nominated Asham Stompers, and 13-year old twin fiddler brothers Double the Trouble accompanied by 20-year old, Gustin Adjun join the final performance.

Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of Indspire and Executive Producer of the Indspire Awards says between the performances and the award recipients, the Awards is a magnificent evening of celebration of Indigenous talent in Canada.

“In this era of reconciliation, it is fitting that we honour the contributions and role of Indigenous peoples and look forward to the future we are building together. By recognizing the journeys and accomplishments of these remarkable First Nations, Inuit, and Métis visionaries, activists, and role models, who have – with passion, courage and tenacity – converted their gifts, energies and determination into achievement, we inspire our young people to achieve their dreams and we show all Canadians that our people continue to be an important part of the future of our country.”

The 2018 Indspire Awards honour the following thirteen First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals from across the country:

Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Gloria Cranmer Webster, ‘Namgis First Nation, BC
Arts: Greg Hill, Kanyen’kehaka at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, ON
Business & Commerce: Nicole Bourque-Bouchier, Mikisew Cree First Nation, AB
Culture, Heritage & Spirituality: Kye7e Cecilia Dick DeRose, Secwepemc Nation, BC
Culture, Heritage & Spirituality: Theland Kicknosway, Walpole Island Bkejwanong Territory, ON
Education: Dr. Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams, Lil’wat Nation, BC
Health: Dr. Evelyn Voyageur, Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, BC
Law & Justice: Paul Chartrand, Métis, St. Laurent, MB
Public Service: Dr. Mike DeGagné, Animakee Wa Zhing #37, ON
Sports: Michael Linklater, Thunderchild First Nation, SK
Youth – First Nation: Ashley Callingbull, Enoch Cree Nation, AB
Youth – Inuit: Dr. Donna May Kimmaliardjuk, Igluligaarjuk, NU
Youth – Métis: Tracie Léost, Métis, St. Laurent, MB

The Indspire Awards represent the highest honour the Indigenous community bestows upon its own people. After 25 years, the Indspire Awards have recognized 350 Indigenous professionals and youth who demonstrate outstanding achievement. Their stories serve to inspire our youth and educate all Canadians about the impact that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people are making across the country. Each year, the recipients are selected by a jury composed of previous award recipients from across Canada. Recipients are honoured at a ceremony, which is later televised nationally.

Nechi’s Valedictorian Jiles Potts

Part of a series of People Making a Difference for National Indigenous
Peoples Day

Jiles Potts is from the Paul First Nation. He is the youngest of four boys, all raised by a single parent. Jiles graduated from Ross Sheppard High School in June 2013, and since that time has been working and educating himself, gaining valuable life experience and knowledge for his life journey. Jiles has completed self-awareness programs and for the past seven years has been helping out at Nechi, learning from and working with the Eminent Scholars and Elders who facilitate Nechi’s cultural program. Being raised alcohol/drug/tobacco free has developed an understanding that alcohol and drugs are not part of who he is as an Indigenous man. Although Jiles lives an addiction-free lifestyle, the addiction experience with alcohol/drugs is very dear to his heart. Jiles has watched family members and friends struggle with addictions and seen children being apprehended because of addictions. Throughout his time at Nechi and working with Eminent Scholars, Jiles communicates with the numerous students attending the Nechi cultural ceremonies. As a result of being around wellness and healthy lifestyles, Jiles made a decision to become a student at Nechi. Jiles responds well to challenges and makes every effort to put forward his good intention to benefit others. Jiles is excelling in the Indigenous Addictions Services Certificate Program at Nechi. “Now I am a part of the Nechi experience, and humbly acknowledge that I have been selected as Class Valedictorian 2018 to represent the students at Nechi and share my experience. What an amazing journey it has been for me, and the awareness that has been facilitated to me has been amazing! I am grateful”

Vancouver Police Officer Mairead Kenny: Confidence in Ability to Communicate with People Facing Difficulties

Part of a series of People Making a Difference for National Indigenous Peoples Day

Mairead Kenny was born and raised in Vancouver and Inuvik, Northwest Territories. She considers the explanation on how to pronounce her name as a, “long, boring explanation,” so, mostly to bug her mother, she cheerfully goes by, “Maire.”

Mairead is Irish and means strength and independence. Kenny’s background is Irish-Canadian, Gwi’itchin Indian and Inuvaliuit.  

She spent one year of her childhood in Inuvik where she learned to trap and fish with her father, who was a part of Kenny’s life only briefly, as she and her mother returned to Vancouver.

Over the next 20 years, in Vancouver, Mairead Kenny strives to live up to the meaning of her name.

In 2010, Kenny was accepted into the Aboriginal Cadet Program with Vancouver Police Department (VPD), where she met VPD Officer Carla Arial. Arial became her mentor and today remains a good friend in her life.

While in the program, Kenny said she was very fortunate to participate on the Pulling Together Canoe Journey, calling the experience, “one of the most enlightening, positive and emotional experiences of my life. It was incredible to be part of this community and paddle together throughout the Lower Mainland with people of all backgrounds and ages.”  

Following this, Kenny became a mentor with the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA), and mentored two teenagers.  

“It was endearing to reach out and spend time with youth who can benefit from role models and learn things together,” said Kenny. “One of our most memorable outings was kayaking with a big group from UNYA and encouraging my teens to challenge themselves.”

Kenny worked as a guard in the VPD Jail. Here, she interacted with people every day, many of whom were dealing with personal struggles including substance abuse, mental health and socio-economic issues.

“This was definitely eye opening and often difficult, but it built my confidence in my ability to communicate with people who faced these difficulties,” said Kenny. “I learned everyone has their story.”

In late 2014, when her recruiter told him she has been hired as a police constable with VPD, Kenny said she cried on the spot.  

“I couldn’t contain my emotions because I was so happy, overwhelmed and definitely anxious to start my career,” said Kenny.

Three years later, Kenny is working as a patrol officer in Vancouver on the west side. Her role, like thousands of her fellow officers in Canada, is personally important.

“I enjoy this role, regardless of the demands and challenges because I know I worked endlessly to get here and am thankful for everything I have learned,” said Kenny.


Willie Sellars: Making a Difference for the Williams Lake Indian Band and Williams Lake

Willie Sellars

Part of a series of People Making a Difference for National Indigenous Peoples Day

Making a difference in your community takes a lot of effort.  Fortunately for Willie Sellars, he has seemingly boundless energy.  Originally elected in 2008 at the age of 24, Willie is now in his third term of Council for the Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB).  In addition to his political duties, Willie is also employed by the WLIB as Special Projects Coordinator and has played a critical role in the renovation of WLIB’s governance structure and its major accomplishments in the area of business and economic development.

Willie’s community efforts don’t stop when the business day ends, though.  He is also passionate about sports, and serves as goaltender for the Williams Lake Stampeders.  Recently, Willie competed in the bull riding competition at the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo and was paired with another local hero, Carey Price, who held Willie’s rope as he prepared for his ride.  Willie also spearheaded major renovations to the WLIB’s outdoor baseball facility as part of a project funded by the Jays Care Foundation.

Willie is on the Board of Directors for numerous entities, including the Williams Lake Business Improvement Association, the Indigenous Business and Investment Council, and Borland Creek Logging.  During the forest fires of 2017, Willie was seconded to the BC Wildfire Service where he served as a crew leader.

In 2014, Willie authored the best-selling children’s book “Dipnetting with Dad,” which tells the story of traditional fishing practices from the perspective of an aboriginal youth.  His second book “Hockey with Dad” is due for release in late 2018.

Willie lives on WLIB’s Sugar Cane reserve, and has three children aged two, eight and ten.


Stupid is as stupid does, art
One look at me and you’ll see a Native looking back at you. But if you were to hear me on the phone you’d never guess that I was brown-ish.

Because of my environment, I never picked up the Native accent. We’ve all heard Native spokesmen on TV speaking with a lazy nasal tone. I’ve met some of these Rez boys and girls in person, and when speaking with them off camera they tend to sound just like any other Canadian.

Some things have changed over the years, but it’s not easy being brown.

Do you think that federal, provincial and local politics are hard to phantom? Imagine adding at least thirteen more layers of bilateral bureaucracies on top all that. That’s why you don’t see Native owned and operated businesses on reservations.

Take yours truly; I don’t live on my reservation, but I have traditional holdings and I’ve wanted to put businesses on my property for forty long years. The mountain of paperwork alone could kill a thousand trees.

The obstacles aren’t only government bureaucracy; they include things like the mood of the chief and councilors and who you’re related to.

Someone once said that the only constant is change. I can assure you they didn’t live on a reservation.

Not to belittle anyone’s ancestors; but first it was the fork-tongued devils who took Native lands. Today, Natives are stealing from Natives!

I know that’s a bold statement, but it’s as true as the sun will shine, waters flow and the grass gets smoked.

If I didn’t keep up the fight all these years; my own people had plans for Bates land.

It all goes back to the Indian act of 1867. Basically we Natives are owned by the government, and the land is controlled at the federal level.

There was a time not that many generations ago that a Native could hunt, fish and explore from horizon to horizon. Today most Natives are forced to work off reservation to make a living.

Canada will allow myself and others, to raise cows and chickens and such on our land, but we can’t use those traditional lands to start businesses – talk about keeping them down on the farm.

I once wrote a column about reservation brain drain. Any Native with any get-up and go, does exactly that. They pack up and leave, because of a lack of opportunity.

You want to hear an even bolder statement? I can’t stand the sound of those TV drum-beaters.

All these drummers who stand in the way of mining, development and pipelines because they don’t want to disturb the land are fools!

If some business people want to backup a truck of cash and drop it in your lap, and you say no – you deserve extinction.

Here is my reasoning; this planet has been through cataclysmic changes, and it has always ‘healed’. Volcanoes, Earthquakes and asteroids have all taken their shot at this planet, yet here we stand on solid ground.

With today’s environmental laws and reclamation contracts in place, it’s lunacy to turn down a chance to fund a brighter future for your tribe, and at the same time have the resources to recapture our past glory. Not to mention the pride that comes with being self-sufficient.

If the TV drum-beaters would stop and think; they’d realize that we are one invention away from oil becoming as obsolete as the steam engine.


Please feel free to Email Bernie Bates at:


Dr. Evelyn Voyageur Receives Indspire Health Award

Dr. Evelyn Voyageur has inspired a generation of leaders while transforming Indigenous healthcare across Canada.

Dr. Evelyn Voyageur, a nationally recognized leader in Indigenous health, NIC Elder in Residence and faculty member, will receive the prestigious 2018 Indspire Award for Health.

Voyageur has dedicated her life to transforming Indigenous healthcare across Canada.

“She was raising awareness about the systemic and institutionalized racism faced by Indigenous people long before these issues were in the public eye,” said NIC nursing instructor Joanna Fraser. “She had the courage to speak out when there were not many people in the nursing profession taking action to reduce the stigma and oppression faced by Indigenous people.”

Voyageur lived the Truth and Reconciliation principles long before they were mandated, encouraging NIC nursing students to respect Indigenous voices and ways of knowing.

“Evelyn’s guidance, mentorship and wisdom as an Elder have deeply impacted not only my nursing practice but how I carry myself in this world,” said Dawn Tisdale, Evelyn’s former student at NIC, and leader of the Association of Registered Nurses of BC’s New Graduate program. “Evelyn’s leadership and heart have inspired a generation of leaders who have changed the course of healthcare in Canada. She has shifted our collective consciousness and paved the way for Indigenous nurses everywhere.”

Voyageur also influenced the development of NIC field schools to Kingcome and Rivers Inlets, giving student nurses and faculty from across Western Canada, physicians and professionals the opportunity to learn about Aboriginal health and healing from Elders in remote coastal communities.

“Dr. Voyageur is a strong supporter of a community-led health system,” said Fraser. “With her guidance this field school has been developed in relationship with community – with respect for Wuikinuxv protocols and knowledge.”

Her advocacy is recognized nationwide. In addition to the Indspire Award, Voyageur has earned a College of Registered Nurses of BC Lifetime Achievement Award, was named as one of the top 150 nurses across Canada and received an Award of Excellence in Nursing from Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Branch.

She is active in the Vancouver Island Health Authority Aboriginal Working Group, the New Hospital Projects Aboriginal Advisory Committee, the Ministry of Children and Families Aboriginal Advisory Group, the Canadians Seeking Solutions and Innovations to Overcome Chronic Kidney Disease (Can-SOLVE CKD) network and more.

“I have witnessed her ability to empower and mentor First Nations people to use their traditional knowledge and values in working toward the health of their own communities,” said Fraser. “For me, there has been no greater nurse, mentor and teacher in my life. She shares herself generously as a teacher and knowledge keeper.”

Learn more about NIC’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at and view Dr. Voyageur’s full profile at

PSAC Continues Its Thirsty for Justice Campaign to Address Water Crisis in First Nations Communities

On National Aboriginal Day 2016, PSAC launched its Thirsty for Justice campaign. It was launched as the result of a PSAC convention resolution, passed unanimously, that called on the union to engage in a national campaign on safe drinking water for First Nations communities.

The #ThirstyforJustice campaign is demanding that the Liberal government make good on its promise to fix the water crisis in First Nations communities and ensure that all Indigenous People have access to tap water that is safe to drink.


Grassy Narrows

For this campaign, PSAC partnered with the community of Grassy Narrows. The river water in Grassy Narrows has been contaminated by mercury for over 40 years and the tap water is not safe to drink. Grassy Narrows is only one of more than 100 First Nations communities that do not have access to safe water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

A Thirsty for Justice video was developed in collaboration with an award-winning documentary filmmaker and focuses on the community of Grassy Narrows. The community has been in a long-standing battle with the federal and provincial governments over the water issue while at the same time defending their territory from logging companies that wish to clear cut the land. The campaign also includes sample letters and talking points for use when talking to MPs about the issue, a petition, posters and other initiatives aimed at raising awareness and getting the government’s attention.

For Aboriginal Day in 2017, PSAC partnered with Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network (APTN) for its National Aboriginal Day Live program. As part of the partnership agreement, APTN aired a 30-second version of our campaign video.

As of March, 2018, the video now has over 160,000 views.

Although the Liberal government has promised to end boil water advisories by 2021, they have not committed enough money or resources to accomplish this goal. According to a recent report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the government’s actual and planned spending falls short of what’s needed by at least 30 per cent. That is why it is still so important to push forward with this campaign.

Visit to send a letter to your MP calling for immediate action and to share the campaign video.


World’s First Indigenous Law Degree to Be Offered at UVic

A new law program at the University of Victoria is the world’s first to combine the intensive study of both  Indigenous and non-Indigenous law, enabling people to work fluently across the two realms.

Students will graduate with two professional degrees, one in Canadian Common Law (Juris Doctor or ‘JD’) and one in Indigenous Legal Orders (Juris Indigenarum Doctor or ‘JID’). Their education will benefit areas such as environmental protection, Indigenous governance, economic development, housing, child protection and education—areas where currently there is an acute lack of legal expertise to create institutions that are grounded in Indigenous peoples’ law and to build productive partnerships across the two legal systems.

“This program builds on UVic’s longstanding commitment to, and unique relationship with, the First Peoples of Canada. The foundational work for this program has been underway for several years, building on Indigenous scholarship for which UVic is known internationally,” says UVic President Jamie Cassels. “This joint-degree program is also a direct response to a call of action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to establish Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous Law.”

The provincial government included funding for the new program in BC Budget 2018, delivered Feb. 20, as one of several initiatives and another step in BC’s commitment to work with Indigenous peoples to build true and lasting reconciliation, anchored by the government’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“We appreciate the provincial government’s support for this unique and transformative program whose graduates will be leaders in numerous fields in their communities in BC and across Canada,” says Cassels.

The JD/JID program was conceived by two of Canada’s foremost Indigenous legal experts, both of whom are at UVic: John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, and Val Napoleon, Law Foundation Chair in Aboriginal Justice and Governance. Borrows describes the difference between common law and Indigenous law this way: Indigenous law looks to nature and to the land to provide principles of law and order and ways of creating peace between peoples; whereas the common law looks to old cases in libraries to decide how to act in the future.

“Indigenous law is the most vital and exciting legal work being done in the world right now,” says Napoleon, director of the Indigenous Law Research Unit. “UVic’s Indigenous Law Degree program will equip our students to take up that work at every level – local to national, private to public, and beyond. This is the very first law degree of its kind, and it is going to be a vital part of rebuilding Indigenous law to meet today’s challenges.”

The four-year JD/JID program includes mandatory field studies in Indigenous communities across Canada, introducing students to a diversity of Indigenous legal traditions. The first intake of students is being planned for September 2018, subject to approval under BC’s Degree Authorization Act.

The program will be supported and complemented by a new Indigenous Legal Lodge, to be built to house the JD/JID program and the Indigenous Law Research Unit. It will act as a national forum for critical engagement, debate, learning, public education and partnership on Indigenous legal traditions and their use, refinement, and reconstruction. The design will reflect and honour the long-standing relationships between the law school and local First Nations communities.

Senator Murray Sinclair, former judge and Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said of the joint JD/JID program and Indigenous Legal Lodge: “They are precisely what we had hoped would follow from the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and they promise to form the very best of legacies: a set of initiatives that reject and reverse the pattern of denigration and neglect identified in our report, and that establish the conditions for effective action long into the future.”


From Homeless to Helping Others: VIU Cowichan Student April Murphy’s Story

April Murphy, an Adult Basic Education student at VIU Cowichan, has gone from being unable to read to her children to becoming a leader in her classes. Photo Credit: Vancouver Island University

April Murphy, an Adult Basic Education student at VIU Cowichan, has gone from being unable to read to her children to becoming a leader in her classes. Photo Credit: Vancouver Island University


An Adult Basic Education student, Murphy overcame multiple barriers to succeed

DUNCAN, BC: April Murphy has battled illiteracy, homelessness, and addiction and mental health challenges.

Now the 33-year-old Vancouver Island University (VIU) Cowichan Adult Basic Education (ABE) student is well on her way to getting her high school diploma, after which she plans to enter the Community Mental Health Worker certificate program so she can help others overcome similar life situations. She hopes sharing her story will inspire others to see the possibilities.

“I went from being my own worst enemy to being my own best friend,” says Murphy. “I didn’t realize how good life could be if I was good to myself. The community at VIU has been amazing throughout this process. I don’t think I would be half as successful if it weren’t for the staff here cheering me on and pushing me to do better for myself.”

Growing up in the Cowichan Valley, Murphy’s educational struggles began at an early age – she dropped out in Grade 5 without ever having learned to read.

“It felt like a burden to bring myself to school she says. “It was tough. After I dropped out, I ended up in an alternative school for six months, and then after that I was just homeless.”

Murphy lived on the streets of Victoria until she got pregnant at age 18 and returned home. After giving birth to her second son, she decided it was time she learned to read so she enrolled in literacy courses at The Reading and Writing Centre – Malaspina’s storefront literacy program in downtown Duncan.

“My oldest son was going to be in Kindergarten and I wanted to be able to read the bedtime stories the teacher sent home,” remembers the mother of four. “But I had this big block about learning because of my earlier experiences – I was so afraid of failing.”

After reaching a certain reading proficiency, Murphy was able to enrol in adult upgrading courses through what was then Malaspina University-College. She experienced a major hiccup in her educational journey after suffering from a grand mal seizure in 2013, which caused epileptic psychosis. In 2016, after struggling for years to regain her mental health, she bumped into Joanna Lord, one of her Adult Basic Education Instructors at VIU Cowichan, while out and about in the community. Lord talked her into coming back to school.

“Joanna has been awesome – she’s definitely been given a gift to inspire people to do the best they can,” says Murphy. “Summer [Crosson, another Adult Basic Education instructor] is the same, she has a way of helping you see that you can do this. All of the staff at the Cowichan Campus bring a lot of hope to people, I find it like a family network.”

Lord, who met Murphy in 2010 when she first signed up for upgrading courses, says her story is one of incredible resilience and determination.

April is the epitome of an ABE student, overcoming multiple barriers to continue her education, and acting as a role model for her children and extended family,” says Lord.

Crosson says Murphy has become a leader at VIU and she looks forward to watching her take on new leadership roles in the community.

“Her enthusiasm, kindness and sense of humour are a welcome contribution in the classroom – she contributes to a sense of teamwork and solidarity amongst her fellow students,” says Crosson.

Murphy’s next step is to take the Community Mental Health Worker program and become a shelter worker.

“We need more community support workers in the Cowichan Valley, the homeless population is only going to continue to rise,” she says. “I just want to give back to this area, which has given so much to me.”

To learn more about Adult Basic Education courses at VIU Cowichan, click here. To view this press release online, visit VIU News.