Both sides of the fence

Both sides of the fence

Posted by on Jun 14, 2014 in Our blog, Then and now | 1 comment

JaniceGuest blog by Janice Friesen, former Ranch youth and current education assistant at Schaller school.

I have been on both sides of the fence. I have lived at the Ranch, and I have worked at the Ranch.

I moved to Ranch Ehrlo in 1999 as a 16-year-old Woodland Cree girl from the La Ronge area, north of Prince Albert. I wanted to come to the Ranch because my foster brother had been there and I also realized that I had some issues that had to be worked through.

I didn’t like Ranch Ehrlo when I first arrived. The hardest part was being far from the rest of my family, and in an environment with new people that I was afraid to trust. Trust was a big issue for me, and I tried to push the staff away. Once I realized that everyone at the Ranch was there to help me, to support me, I began to settle in and stabilize.

After I accepted my surroundings and embraced the support, the Ranch began to feel like home and the people began to feel like family.

I kept busy playing basketball, going on trips, helping in the office, and anticipating allowance day when we bought slurpees, chips, and Twizzlers in preparation for movie nights. I also looked forward to Awards Night every year. I always emceed the event, and even received three awards in recognition of my community involvement and achievements in music and education.

As my success grew at the Ranch I prepared to transition to an in-town school and in-town living arrangement. Transitioning was scary because I was venturing into unfamiliar territory. I was embarrassed to be a Ranch youth, but once I became comfortable with my new school and new classmates, I was okay. I made friends who didn’t judge me. I became involved in vocal Jazz, and I took a liking to English.

When the time did come to leave the Ranch, I was excited. It was a new beginning. I tried returning to my home reserve, but it didn’t work so I moved to Regina and worked at McDonalds for five years to put myself through high school. I learned to work for what I wanted.

Fast forward a few years and I’m now working at the Ranch as a casual education assistant at Schaller Education Centre. I’ve become a mother to a little girl, and a woman with hopes, dreams, and goals.

I’ve wanted to be a teacher all of my life, and hope to finish my degree in elementary education. I’d like to teach at Schaller school so that I can give the help that I received all those years ago.