Kat Morris is an Indigenous student currently enrolled in the Academic Upgrading Program at the College of New Caledonia. Kat is also a casual employee at the Aboriginal Resource Centre, student volunteer and a prominent figure in the college’s indigenous community.
Kat: My name is Kat Morris, I’m am from Tl’azt’en First Nation, Frog Clan, and I am in Academic Upgrading.
Damon: Have you thought about what you’re going to be moving into?
Kat: Yeah, I’ve thought about a few. I was thinking about going in Applied Business Technology, Early Childhood or Social Working.
Damon: You’ve still got a bit of time to make up your mind!
Kat: (Laughs) Yeah I do.
Damon: So what drove you to apply at the college? What was the thing that lead you here?
Kat: Well, one day my friend applied for schooling at the college and I thought to myself ‘oh I should maybe do that’. So I went up to the registrar and asked them how to apply for upgrading and what the steps are for it. ‘Well you need 15 bucks to sign-up for the EMAT test’ she said, which is the English/Math test that you need to get into academic upgrading. I looked in my wallet and I kid you not, only had 15 bucks in there. I said to myself ‘Oh my god, I actually have 15 bucks in there. Here you go.’ So I took the test, and I got into MATH 028 and ENGL 030.
Damon: So that was it, huh? You came here with 15 bucks and a dream.
Kat: (Laughs) Pretty much! I did not know about my financial layout, as I could only get grants or funding if I took post-secondary courses. I’ve had to do only 1 course per semester, which has taken a very long time.
Damon: So, afterwards, you get involved with the ARC (Aboriginal Resource Centre). You’ve been here as long as I’ve been in the college and are very active in supporting the day-to-day things going on here, how did that begin?
Kat: I didn’t really know too much about the ARC when I started. One day I was walking by and I came in. I sat down and everyone just seemed friendly. I felt accepted, I felt like I belonged here. After that, I started coming here all the time. I knew that they had computers, and I did all my English courses here. There was a tutor here named Danuta (formerly Danuta Holm, now Danuta Gigliotti) who was also an instructor of mine who helped me out so much. After a while, Darlene started to come to me for help around the ARC, ‘we need you to do this, we need your help with this.’ One day Darlene came to me and asked me if I wanted to work at the ARC. I couldn’t believe it. ‘This is crazy man, I can’t work and go to school.’ But I did, and I never thought I would be able to do that. But I did!
Damon: What’s moment stands out to you during your time here?
Kat: Well, the teachers were really helpful. I wanted to give up a couple times. I remember when my brother passed away, my teacher came up to me at a time where I didn’t want to do anything anymore. He told me that I could always try again the next semester, and I came back and I actually did it.
Damon: Anything else you would like to add to this? It is your story, after all.
Kat: I forgot to mention, but before I came to the college I had a lot of troubles in life. I used to drink, and do drugs, and made my choices revolving around that. After a bit of personal work and time in rehab, I decided I didn’t want to be wrapped up in that any more. I’ve been sober for 6 years, on May 2nd.
Damon: You should be very proud of that.
Kat: I am. Sometimes math is a struggle, and I feel like giving up. I just don’t. I just keep going, and ask for help. I go to Dennis, he’s a big help for me. It’s been good. It’s been a good journey, a good walk. Everybody has their ups and downs, you can make it through it. Everybody can.
Damon: Considering your story, your path. What message has come out of it? What’s something you think other students can take out of your story?
Kat: If you have a dream, don’t give up on it. Just keep going, because one day you’re going to have that dream in your hands and it is going to be the greatest feeling in the world.