A bumpy pathway can lead to the straight and narrow, so long as you follow the right directions along the way.

Former Ranch youth Aaron Gilbert said he’s grateful to Ranch Ehrlo for giving him strategies and strength to choose the right path when he came to a fork in the road.

Aaron was a troubled youth in the late 1990s, living in extreme poverty and in a household of alcoholics. He said it was extreme anger, not peer pressure, that ruled his life and ultimately led to poor choices and bad behaviours.

In Grade 7, Aaron became the first student at his school to be arrested.

Two years and some trouble later, Aaron found himself living at Ranch Ehrlo Society.

“I was scared at first,” he said candidly. “I lived on the reserve most of my life and had never been to the city but being there opened my eyes to the possibilities the world had to offer.”

Aaron moved into Ranch Ehrlo’s Pilot Butte campus at age 14 and attended school at the Schaller Education Centre. He later moved on to a Regina group home and attended a public school before being discharged at age 16.

He said returning to the reserve was difficult, but Aaron stayed the course and chose a happier, healthier pathway.  

“I never forgot what I was taught at the Ranch, and how to handle myself,” Aaron said proudly. “Some of the people that I got into trouble with are not here anymore, and some of them are in and out of prison. I think that could have been me, I could have gone down that path.”

But he didn’t.

Instead, Aaron has gone on to live a happy and fulfilling life alongside his wife. He is fulfilled by a career and by the company of his three sons and four grandchildren.  

Despite some 30 years passing, Aaron said he still feels connected to the Ranch. He visited the Buckland campus in 2013 to speak to the youth and said even since then chance meetings with former housemates and past staff have walked him down memory lane.

“If I could see all the people that helped me, I would just tell them thank you. I think about them often, and I love them for what they did for me. They were an amazing part of my life and they really helped change me for the better.”