When Eddie Wolf Child (BA ’14, BEd ’15) took a position as educational assistant (EA) in the Siksika school, he discovered a gift.
“I knew where I wanted to be,” he says. “It was teaching.”
Wolf Child chose the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education because of its reputation. From the Siksika reserve he travelled three hours a day to attend classes, or stayed in Lethbridge during the week. For his growing family it was a sacrifice, but it paid off. In May 2015 he convocated with numerous scholarships and an offer to teach at Old Sun Community College.
“I learned a lot of my teaching skills as an EA,” says Wolf Child, but he credits his parents for instilling competencies that are just as valuable. “My mother was soft-spoken and encouraging. She always talked me through things. My father was firm. We were raised to know many things.”
Through his father, Wolf Child learned traditional dance, and now competes throughout North America in symbolic Blackfoot attire designed, sewn and beaded by family members.
“Dancing has taken me many places,” says Wolf Child. Of special significance are a role in the acclaimed aboriginal production, New Blood; dancing at the Calgary Stampede, and performing for the Queen of England.
Committed to his community, Wolf Child founded the Siksika Youth Movement with two other EAs.
“We had people come in and talk about their issues. Last year was our 10th anniversary.”
The movement’s consistency and longevity has resulted in many youth expressing its positive influence on their lives. A first-generation member of the post-residential school era, Wolf Child also works with elders to restore traditional Blackfoot ways to those who lost them being raised away from their culture and families. Throughout university he was active in Native Awareness Week.
Wolf Child views all his experiences as grist for the mill of teaching.
“Working in the school as an EA I saw a lot. It made me aware of multiple perspectives. It’s not just about teaching; it’s guiding students as they go through life’s transitions. Showing them other people share the same struggles. Whether I work on or off the reserve, that will still be my goal.”
“I’m able to teach the things my parents taught me,” he adds. “Knowledge is a gift you pass on. That’s the way things are. You can’t be stingy with knowledge. You’ve got to pass it on.”