Alumna emerges as a voice for First Nations children

Posted: August 20, 2012 11:00 a.m.

Vera Tourangeau received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina in 1990.
Vera Tourangeau received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina in 1990. Photo: U of R Photography

In her book Miss, It Hurts, Vera Tourangeau shares the heartbreaking journal entries of the First Nations students she taught.

"Miss, my mom tried to kill herself last night," one entry says. "She took a lot of pills. I didn't have time to study my spelling words."

"Miss, I joined a gang over the summer," another student wrote. "So I can never talk to you again."

Tourangeau wrote the poems based on the journal entries and her own experiences. She later used the manuscript as the text for her first-ever public speaking engagement, a short address at the opening of a national conference on bullying in 2005, and moved the audience to tears.

It was a role she had never imagined for herself but it was the beginning of her emergence as a voice for First Nations people, especially children. Today, she is widely known as an inspirational speaker, educator, literacy worker, community volunteer, writer and, most recently, a playwright.

Tourangeau is the 2012 recipient of the Alumni Award for Distinguished Humanitarian and Community Service, which recognizes an individual who has contributed service that has made a difference to the well-being of others.

She received her Bachelor of Education in 1990 from the University of Regina. This was the first step on a path that has allowed her to make a difference, first as a teacher and administrator at Peepeekisis First Nation, then as a community engagement consultant with the Treaty 4 Student Success Program and more recently as a writer and motivational speaker.

“The University of Regina provided a solid foundation of knowledge, skills and best practices that I could apply to any classroom or organization.”

Tourangeau says she tells young people to hold on to their dreams, to believe they can do anything they want to do, to have the courage to resist when tempted by alcohol, drugs and gangs and to fight the fight of a true warrior.

Tourangeau will be one of five distinguished alumni recognized at the eighth annual Alumni Crowning Achievement Awards Gala on September 27.

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