When Laura Somerville first came to Loyalist she went in search of the Aboriginal Resource Centre. She discovered a warm and welcoming atmosphere that drew her back time and again. It was a place she could go to where everyone knew her name — and a place where everyone’s opinion was valued and respected. She drew on this strength throughout her two-year Recreation and Leisure Services program and considers it one of her favourite parts of college life.
“Maybe it was the commonalities that we shared, or maybe it helped because I knew Paul Latchford, the Coordinator of Aboriginal Services, from when he used to visit our classes at Quinte Mohawk School. The Centre was a comfortable supportive place to be and I spent a lot of time there,” Laura said.
“I really enjoyed my program and the professors were very committed to our success. It felt like they were working with us. I loved my second year in particular because it was more hands-on and less theory. The best class of all was Event Management. The skills that I learned were definitely relevant because I apply them daily in my job now.”
When Laura graduated in June of 2008 she was offered a contract position in the Centre. “It was an exciting time to start working here. The Centre had just received Access to Opportunity Funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. I moved in right along with the new computers, workstations, filing cabinets and couches. We were vibrating with activity. We were truly able to provide many of the services we had wanted and needed for so long.
“My first big project was to organize the Festival of Native Arts. All of the planning and organizational skills that I had learned in my program were put into action. It felt great to be arranging an event of this magnitude and to feel confident in what had to be done to make things happen. I’ve also been able to organize traditional craft days with Elders in the Tyendinaga community. Working with people of my culture in this way has been a very positive experience. This is the area I would like to pursue in my career. It is important to me to return to the reserve and bring something back to my community. I credit my training at Loyalist for preparing me to work in the position I am in now — a job that lets me use a broad range of my skills and work deeply within my culture.”