It is important to the staff at the Good Learning Anywhere project that we make sure that we recognize and celebrate our learners that help make this project such a success. One such learner is Lennie Spence from Webequie First Nation. Back in January I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to start working on a new project with the Matawa First Nations to prepare learners whose goal is to get their GED. These learners meet 4 nights a week for 2 hours each night, so it is quite the dedicated group. This is where I had the pleasure of meeting Lennie.

Usually, when we choose a Learner of the Month, one of the staff writes up an article describing all of the learner’s amazing qualities and their journey with education. It would be very easy for me to write about what a terrific learner Lennie is, how dedicated he is, how enthusiastic he is, how supportive he is of the other learners in the class, and so on. However, in one of our first classes together, Lennie shared with me that one of his goals is to be a writer, so I presented him with the challenge of writing his own Learner of the Month article. Needless to say, Lennie rose to the occasion and wrote a moving and inspiring piece that beautifully expresses his decision to pursue his education. Congratulations, Lennie!

Lennie and his daughter, Liarah

My Learner of the Month Article

by Lennie Spence 

I am deeply honoured and thrilled to be named the ‘Learner of the Month’. And before I get started with my story I’d like to thank the ‘Sioux Hudson Literacy’ for giving me this opportunity to be here and try to obtain my GED and also a special thanks goes out to my fellow students for being here as well for they too are trying to obtain their GED.

When I made my decision to apply for the GED program I had two reasons in mind. First, I now have a beautiful baby girl to support full-time and secondly, I had a brother that took his own life a few years ago that made me open my eyes that through education I can change my life around.

Over the years I was involved in all kinds of odd and seasonal jobs such as firefighting, line cutting, tree planting, sewage plant helper and numerous part-time jobs. When my daughter was born, I wondered, how am I going to support her with these kinds of jobs? I took two things into consideration; the high cost of living in the north and the scarcity of these part-time jobs.

Having a part-time job sometimes would take its toll on me. Bills would start to pile up and in most cases I barely had enough money left over to buy groceries for myself. At times it was really frustrating, although I had the opportunity to complete my education at an earlier age. I was one of the many who made that unwise decision to drop out of high school and this was my greatest regret in the years that followed.

My late brother went through the same thing too, but he took a different path to get back on track. He was leading a life of self-destruction, he was drinking a lot on the reserve and getting into all kinds of trouble and as I recall, some people said that he will never make out of this reserve and that he’ll probably end up in jail for good. But I, on the hand, had always believed that my brother was a very intelligent person and even his peers used to tell me how bright he was.

I think it was around 1996 that he finally decided to go back to school because he knew that it was hopeless to live on the reserve due to the lack of opportunities. He first sifted through mail correspondence courses and then went down the local Educational center to see if there was anything that appealed to him. Then entered another brother who just happened to be the Chief of the community at the time suggested that he just leave the community to attend college in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

After a few years of attending college in Thunder Bay he graduated with a diploma in business management and then shortly afterwards he continued onto Lakehead University where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. And right after Lakehead, he enrolled in a law school in Toronto, Ontario where he got accepted but never got around securing funding for it.

Sadly, after going through some personal problems and the pressures of city life he took his own life in June of 2004. One thing I learned from what he went through is that no matter what we go through we can all still be successful in obtaining our goals through hard work and a good education.

My goal is to continue in my quest for a good education for a full-time job.

Thank you very much.

Lennie Spence