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Grow, learn, expand, repeat.

Monday August 25, 2014

If I’m ever brave enough to get a tattoo it would say, “The only constant is change”. Change is inevitable. Sometimes it takes us by surprise, sometimes its out of necessity and sometimes we barely notice it’s happening. But it’s always there no matter what we would like to believe.

When I was 22, I was ready for change, eager for it. I had spent two years working at Grand Portage Casino and felt the pull to go back to school in every fiber of my being. I borrowed my roommate’s computer to research college courses. Made notes, felt the passion of higher education motivating me. It was a change nobody could ever regret. I said goodbye to the trailer park and hello to the varsity life. For three years that passion continued and I dived all heartedly into the work. I wasn’t much of the partygoer, and had selected a few precious friends. Being the first one on the campus early in the morning and the last one to leave every day, I pushed myself and graduated with a 3.9 GPA.

While in school, I imagined what the perfect job would be; doing all the things I had learned.

When I drove my old Pontiac back to Thunder Bay from Barrie, Ont., I had no home and no job, just the motivation of learning and growing. Half of all the things I owned in the world were sitting in the back of my car (I would go and get the second half when I went back to my convocation ceremony).

In a stroke of luck I found a perfect affordable apartment I could live in with a small budget I had to keep me going while looking for work.

I picked strawberries with my aunt a few times a week at first, and sent out resumes to all the graphic design houses in the phone book.

Then, with another stroke of luck, I met a lady who worked for Wawatay Native Communications Society. Wawatay was looking for a graphic designer here in Thunder Bay. A week later I was working from home as a web/graphic designer. That was June of 2006 and I’ve been working for them since. It was my perfect job I had always imagined back in college.

There’s been a few highlights since that time that stand out as I look back on the eight-plus years of serving Wawatay.

2007: Launching the Wawatay News Online redesign

Apart from ad design, my first duty was to transfer all the old archives from the old website to the new website. That meant pouring over thousands of stories and formatting them one by one. It took months to complete it all. We planned to launch the site in Sioux Lookout and created DVD packages to give away. I was responsible for putting them together, getting them printed and packaged. It was the first time I made major mistakes and misjudged file sizes, timelines, and had technical issues. The staff came together and we had a successful launch.

2008: Success in Chosen Career Path Award

This was a special moment I knew I was on a good path. It was emotional and affirming that effort and hard work would reap rewards you never expected. See my account of the event here:

2008: North American Indigenous Games

It was the first games I had been privileged enough to attend. Victoria Island is a beautiful place with well-organized First Nation groups.

2009: Project Beyshick

Being selected to participate in the one-week program was very exciting. Going to Toronto and seeing the bigger picture was priceless. I was able to visit a very high-end world-renowned design house and see what success looks like on the grandest scale.

2010: Registered Graphic Designer of Ontario Exam

It takes seven years total to qualify for the exam. In December I took the four hour exam and went to Toronto for my portfolio exam in front of an RGD committee. I was relieved when I received my designation. It meant I was really moving forward in my career.

2011-2013: Attendance and participation in tradeshows, Design Thinkers by the RGD, Design City in Toronto Ontario and Print World Show Toronto.

2014: North American Indigenous Games

Ten days in Regina Sask. This time I did more journalist role for Wawatay, bringing back incredible stories about the First Nations youth. See my account of the opening ceremonies here:

Looking back, I am very grateful for all the experiences and learning I have done with Wawatay. They have given me a wonderful career as a graphic designer. It has been a second home and I am sad to leave, but looking forward to new opportunities and expansion. I will miss all the best parts of my career, the many people I’ve worked with, staff and clients alike.

There is some fear and doubt in the unknown future, but the motivation to keep going drives me forward. All things change. We can only do the best of our ability and have faith that things will work out.

Thank you, Wawatay Native Communications Society.

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