Dear Indigenous Student in Higher Education:
No, I don’t know your grades, I haven’t read your essays and I don’t know how or even if you participate in class. But I know you’re doing great.
Do you know how I know? Because I know that every day you enter into that institution is a victory. I know that you battle every day to prove that your forms of knowledge are just as valuable as any in a textbook or journal. I know that you sit in classrooms and walk hallways that not very long ago would not have welcomed you at all, and I know that even now they don’t exactly roll out the red carpet.
I know that you get a lot of messages about the way you may or may not have come to be there. I know that you know the statistics. I know that you may be the first in your family, whether or not you eventually get to wear a cap and gown. I know that the way you speak may be seen as less smart, less proper, and you may feel that it’s easier to stay quiet (and that’s okay).
I know that you sit in lecture halls and seethe in anger about how your classmates are being taught about your people, your history, and their history with you. I know that you can’t write or talk about certain things as easily as others can, because they don’t carry what you do. I know that you know the extra struggles you will face to work in whatever field you choose; because of the colour of your skin, because of where and who you come from.
I know you’ve been told how resilient you are, which might make it hard to ask for help when you need it. I know the anger you feel that these places built on your land and funded by money gained through violence against your ancestors were not built with you in mind.
I know all of this and I also know that you are still there anyway. I know how much of an achievement that is. I know how proud of you I am. Most importantly, I know how proud your ancestors are and how proud the generations coming will be of you too.
I know all of this, because this is my experience.
This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.