In Lord Selkirk Park, 68 per cent of the people in the community live in poverty, according to the most recent census data.
Kaakiyow, a school for adults, is open to everyone. It helps people to achieve their Grade 12 certificate.
"I've been clean for nine years," said James Cook, 48, and a student at Kaakiyow. "I got a support group. I've been trying to be a role model for my kids to show that I can do it, you can do it."
'Somebody saved my life, now I want to save somebody else's life,'—James CookCook is graduating in June of this year after having dropped out earlier in life.
Candy Beardy, who started working at Kaakiyow three years ago, said last year the program had seven graduates, three of which have continued their education at post-secondary institutions.
Students of the program receive food, free textbooks and supplies, help with transportation and career counseling, said Beardy.
"We're going to look into programs, so that I can help people who have addictions," said Cook. "Somebody saved my life, now I want to save somebody else's life."
Cook dropped out of high school in Grade 10 after having trouble keeping up.
"I was kind of slow," said Cook. "I couldn't keep up with the teachers. That's when I dropped out. I was only 17 years old. I started using drugs and started to drink lots."
After graduation, Cook said he wants to help others in need.
Victoria Kattenat, a graduate of Kaakiyow's program, said she went back to school to make herself more employable.
"I dropped out of school in Grade 10, because I had to work," said Kattenat, who was pregnant with her second child at the time. "I realized I needed to go back to school to upgrade my skills."
'I have to keep fighting for my future, not only for me but for my children,'—Victoria KattenatKattenat said there were times when her situation seemed hopeless.
"Everything bundles together and you feel like nothing is possible and maybe you're destined to live in poverty for the rest of your life," she said. "I have to keep fighting for my future, not only for me but for my children."
Kattenat wants to open her own clothing business.
According to census data, more than half of Lord Selkirk Park's residents age 15 years and older have no educational certificate, diploma or degree and the unemployment rate is 18.7 percent.
I think that this is a great program and education is a key indicator of crime. The more education people have, the less likely they are to commit crimes and I think it's great that this program is paying particular attention to people living in poverty as they dont have many options or resources and are the most vulnerable to crime.
More than any other social support, education is the best means to make it out of a life of poverty. Once you have an education, no one can take it away from you and no one can de-value it (and some sure try).
Adult learners tend to be more motivated, more in touch with their next steps when it comes to education. They've generally learned the subtle difference between education and schooling. Many have not had a lot of success in the conventional school system (for many diverse reasons) so programs like this are crucial. I've worked in adult education off and on through the years (mainly with upgrading for trades training) and while I wouldn't pursue it as a full-time career, the rewards of seeing someone actually understand a concept are priceless... more so when you know it can be the first step to them making their life their own.