Elsipogtog’s Oscar Baker says he feels like he is losing part of his culture as he studies in Fredericton
Leaving the Elsipogtog First Nation to attend St. Thomas University was tough, but I now feel guilty when I visit my home.
I’m torn about the limited success I already have in Fredericton and the loss of culture I feel.
I spent eight years off reserve before I started university and I have already lost my language but now I’m losing my culture as well.
I’m in my third year of university and 14 others started along with me. Eight others are still in university and one other graduated, according to the Elsipogtog’s Department of Education.
I’m half black and half Mi’kmaq and in many ways my skin colour has shielded me from the blatant racism some First Nation people face.
But it has opened me up to the everyday criticisms of my mother’s people. I remember being involved in conversations, where people would complain about the funding First Nations were receiving.
This is just one of the issues First Nation may face when living off reserve. I can remember wanting to respond in anger and defend our treaty rights.
Instead, it is better to inform. In many ways the university life isn’t about the money but about improving the way of life.
There are amenities I have in university that are simple but they are vastly different than my impoverished lifestyle at home. It’s like living in two different worlds.