Aboriginal Teacher Education Program Candidate Does It All
by Anam Fatima
Elizabeth Edgar-Webkamigad has a true passion for learning. She started her post-secondary journey over 25 years ago, by completing a social work program at Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta. Since then, she has successfully juggled being a mother of 4 children, working part-time as an instructor and, later, full-time as a manager, and studying for two degrees simultaneously.
Elizabeth has now completed the full-time language program at Algoma University-Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and she is currently in her final year of the part-time Queen’s Manitoulin North-Shore Aboriginal Teacher Education Program.
"When I started at both institutions in September 2010, I was working part-time as an instructor at Sault College. I loved teaching while going to school -- I felt really connected to the students I was teaching because it seemed we shared a common kind of experience. I could relate to what they were doing and I truly believe this made me a better instructor."
The oldest female of her parents' 11 children and a first generation student, she is the first in her family to graduate from college or university.
“I celebrated graduating with my Bachelor of Arts in Anishinaabemowin Language from Algoma University-Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. I am the first person in my family to graduate from university and I am quite honored and proud. I do love learning and look forward to continuing on my formal education journey with graduate and post-graduate studies.”
Initially, Elizabeth wanted to teach at the Primary Junior level. Now, her dream of teaching at the university level is becoming a reality step by step.
“In my second year at Algoma, I decided I wanted to teach at the university level. This had to do with the awesome experiences I was a part of while teaching part-time at Sault College.”
In January 2012, Elizabeth was offered a full-time opportunity to manage a Family Health Team that had just gotten funding in her area. She left teaching part-time to work full-time.
“As a student, one of the biggest challenges I had was trying to make ends meet. I have 4 children and own a home and 2 vehicles, on top of life and living. I was trying to go to school and only work part-time after working full-time all of my adult life. It was an opportunity that I did not want to pass up. I accepted the offer to work full-time; gave up my teaching part-time (even though I loved it!) and thankfully, survived going to school full-time at one institution and part-time at another. I am grateful that the Queen's University ATEP has the option of completing requirements in four years. This is my fourth and final year to meet all requirements in order to graduate.”
Elizabeth has recently accepted the offer to teach part-time again. This coming fall she will be teaching a course called "Aboriginal People of Canada", a mainstream social work class, all while completing her remaining Bachelor of Education practica.
Originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Elizabeth comes from the Crane clan and is from the Ojibway, Odawa and Pottowattomi Nations. She presently lives in Sault Ste. Marie, ON, with her husband who supports all that she does.
For Elizabeth, juggling all of her commitments means using her vacation days creatively.
“Life has been busy, challenging and very rewarding since choosing to go back to school. I fast tracked my degree at Algoma University and I went to school year round to complete my degree in 2 years. It was so worth all the effort when I heard my name called and walked across the stage to receive my diploma 'cum laude'. I really look forward to being able to do it again at Queen's University spring convocation next June!”
The Faculty of Education is proud to have such a dedicated student who is giving back to her Aboriginal community. All the best to Elizabeth in all her future endeavours!