I saw how proud my two parents were of my academic career, and for me it was a certainty that I would follow in their footsteps.
Kijâtai-Alexandra Veillette-Cheezo studies journalism at UQAM. She is a member of the Anishinaabe people and her family comes from the Lac-Simon community in Abitibi. She is involved in the Montreal cultural environment and the 2SLGBTQI + community, in addition to making short films with the Wapikoni mobile phone.
The perfect baby
In high school, I worked hard to have the best grades. Even in the subjects I liked the least, such as math, I put pressure on myself to be perfect.
I went to summer and evening classes to get into math
526 . I worked so much that in correcting my last exam, which was to decide whether to pass or not, the teacher gave me the point I needed to successfully complete the level in order to acknowledge my efforts.
All my life I’ve been trying to cram into shape. To return to the model I set. I was a child all mothers would be proud of. I worked hard to have good grades and I was good. I’ve never had that proverbial teenage crisis.
I worked so hard that when I got to CEGEP, I was exhausted. I never managed to finish my DEC. It didn’t matter how many times I tried again.
In addition, my end of the semester took place at the same time as the maple spring. The whole meeting was canceled due to student requests. I told myself that I would be able to do it in two weeks and at the same time start the first semester of college.
The circumstances were exceptional. It was an opportunity that was offered to me. I was convinced that I could do it easily. I was so close to going to college. I had the evening and summer classes well in high school, so it felt like child’s play.
But I hit a wall. Wall fatigue, demotivation and depression. I sank a semester at CEGEP and first courses at university.
Lose to find myself
Maybe in the end, academia wasn’t made for me. This question struck me a lot. Because until then, I was a docile Kijâtai who worked hard and was proud of her.
Who was I then?
I worked in customer service for several years to pay the bills. Years of experience that I value to this day. I learned a lot, even though I wasn’t in a college environment. I learned about the people around me, about the world around me and especially about myself.
Still, I wanted to go back to school. I still had this image of the perfect man in my head. For me, a successful life was someone with a high school diploma and a successful career with a happy family.
However, I quietly realized that this image was based on what the company had built.
It wasn’t mine.
I began to realize that I could create my own image. At the same time, I began to rediscover my father’s culture. Which was actually ours.
I reunited with the indigenous people of Montreal and also with myself. Journalism: a profession? I started talking publicly about my reality, which joined many of us. I got out of this isolation I created. Today is the first time I have fully thought about my school career. A course I considered unsuccessful.
But I was proud of the work I was doing. I rediscovered the spark that left me. I found myself.
Here I discovered my interest in journalism. I did my first internship at La Converse and I was caught. Above all, however, I have seen in the media a real need to broaden horizons. When I turned on the TV, I never really met. I didn’t like watching the news when my mom dressed for dinner.
I didn’t know myself in the media.
One day I had the opportunity to talk to the LCN about the Wet’suwet’en Assembly. I was there and I wanted to share my experiences and bring an indigenous voice to the subject.
The words used to define the event did not immediately express what I saw. We talked about a human barrage that blocked downtown Montreal for 2 hours.
In my view, it was a peaceful meeting of people who wanted to show their support for people who are defending their rights.
Here I also noticed the importance of diversity of views in the media. Because in my eyes and in the eyes of many, it was a peaceful gathering, but at the same time it was a human obstacle in the eyes of other people.
Both were true.
The problem was that there seemed to be only one perspective in what was being written in the media.
So I started to discover what I consider to be my profession today, journalism.
One day I came across an article announcing a new scholarship. Scholarship Aontaiontenrohwe *, (New window) the word Kanien’kéha, which means
work together . This was intended for natives who wanted to study journalism at UQAM.
Until then, college was just a distant child’s dream. I was 29 years old. Let’s just say I didn’t get into the life stage I envisioned as a child.
The difference, however, was that I knew each other now. I saw this scholarship as a new opportunity to pursue my passion. You don’t have to go to university to work in the media, but I wanted to develop tools that would give me the best chance in the industry.
I believed. In what I have gained over the years.
Then I signed up for journalism at UQAM. I went through all the admissions steps and I was so nervous on the day of the interview.
I wanted it with all my being. I didn’t want to go to college just to go to college. Now I had a goal, a profession. I trusted myself enough to sign up.
I remember that waiting was unbearable. But when they accepted me, I jumped into place. I wanted to go back to school for something that excited me!
Then I applied for a scholarship and I felt privileged to get it too.
Today, I can proudly say that I have had my first year of college. I rowed a lot to get there.
But I did.
I can say that without this grant, which has shown that it is possible for a person like me to win a place in an academic and journalistic environment, I would never have started.
Returning to school was a challenge, but I would never have overcome it without the help of UQAM professors and the Espaces Indiens team.
I’m so proud of myself. Other people need to experience this feeling. There are two new scholarships in the journalism program for the upcoming fall semester at UQAM.
I’m not saying it’s easy to go back to school or get into that commitment. Recognizing our abilities sometimes requires all the world’s effort.
But once you start to respect yourself as a human being, things become easier.
I hope that more and more people from different perspectives will start to fill our media to better represent our society.
The stock market Aontaiontenrohwe is a good start for any indigenous person who wants to study journalism. We have so many votes that deserve to be heard. mikwetc** UQAM, La Converse, Indigenous Spaces and all the people around me for believing in me and continuing to support me. Above all, mikwetc to my mother, who keeps telling me that she is proud of me no matter where I am in my life.
* This scholarship is also offered this year. See details: https://www.apps.uqam.ca/Application/bourses/Bourses/DetailBourse.aspx?brs_id_bourse=9978
** Thank you in Anishinaabe.