Wilfred Augustine of Scotchfort graduated from the Abegweit First Nation Adult Education program in 2015.
He earned a GED certificate, received a PEI Literacy Alliance Bursary, and was named Adult Learner of the year.
His post-secondary journey started when he enrolled in the Holland College Correctional Officer program in fall 2015. It was another outstanding achievement when he graduated in 2016.
“My wife, Sherry, along with our children and my extended family from Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick were at the graduation,” says Wilfred. “Along with my friends back home on Elispogtog, they were all very proud. It was an unforgettable graduation night, shared with the people I love.
“I could not have done the GED program or the Correctional Officer program without the support and encouragement of Sherry. I want to be able to provide a good living for my family. They are my motivation to do well and to be successful in my chosen career.”
The Holland College Correctional Officer program has opened the door to employment opportunities in the federal and provincial correctional facilities.
“While in the GED program, my target was a career in the law enforcement field,” says Wilfred. “Completing my GEDs was a stepping stone to a new challenge and new goals in my life.”
Wilfred completed an on-the-job-training (OJT) placement at the provincial courthouse, which generated a strong interest to work with offenders and inmates as a Sherriff.
As well, being Mi’kmaq played an important role for Wilfred during an OJT placement.
“During my OJT, there were Aboriginal offenders who I could put at ease by talking with them in what can be a stressful situation,” says Wilfred. “As well, I could speak Mi’kmaq with them if they preferred.
“It makes a huge difference to have an Aboriginal person deal with an Aboriginal offender. It can improve the relationship between the justice system and the offenders and inmates.
“The feedback from the OJT experience confirmed my belief that being an Aboriginal person decreased tension and made for better cooperation with Aboriginal offenders.
“Aboriginal law enforcement workers are a source of pride within their communities, and are positive role models for young people. They can also influence the youth in their communities who are dealing with negative issues to travel down a more positive pathway in life.
“I also want to encourage youth and adults everywhere to pursue their goals. Push through obstacles. It’s never too late. In order to succeed, you must first fail. Never give up!”
For more about the Holland College Correctional Officer program, visit www.hollandcollege.com/programs/correctional-officer.
For more about the Abegweit First Nation Adult Education program, contact Faye MacLean of the Mi’kmaq Confederacy at 902-676-2353 ext. 102.