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Fighting for an education

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Published Friday, October 5, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Kadiatu Dumbuya, the winner of the 2007 NWT Council of the Federation Literacy Award, knows all too well that education is a privilege not enjoyed the world over.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Kadiatu Dumbuya, one of the 2007 winners of the NWT Council of Federation Award for Literacy, escaped a war torn Sierra Leone to come to Canada and get an education. Dumbuya is seen here with former education minister Charles Dent. - Christine Grimard/NNSL photo

Escaping a civil war that lasted 11 years in her home country of Sierra Leone, Dumbuya has lived in Yellowknife since 2003.

Knowing that there were more than two million displaced during the conflict, she doesn't take a day for granted while attending steady classes.

"Because of the war, we could go all year without school," said Dumbuya. "You go half the time because of the war, it was on and off."

Enrolling directly into English as a second language courses upon her arrival in Yellowknife, Dumbuya has been taking classes at Aurora College ever since.

She'll soon complete her nursing access courses and will be ready to enter a college program.

She said she's still deciding whether she wants to enter into social work or nursing.

Working full-time and never missing a deadline, her work was recognized by Charles Dent, minister of Education, Culture and Employment, who presented her with the literacy award at a ceremony at Northern United Place on Oct. 2.

"A lot of people don't know what she's been through," said her former teacher Cookie Letemplier.

"She's not one to say, 'I had a hard time, I deserve this.' She knows she has to work hard."

On top of her studies, Dumbuya works full-time five nights a week at Wal-Mart.

To ensure that her schoolwork doesn't suffer, Dumbuya spends all of her spare time between classes and on her two nights off a week doing homework.

Dumbuya said she puts in all this effort because she recognizes that doors will open to her once she has an education.

"I just think that education is the key to success," said Dumbuya. "You can stay independent, nobody can take it away from you."

Dumbuya's efforts were recognized last year as well when she won the college's Gail Marie Jones award.

Dumbuya was among three recipients of the awards presented as part of this year's NWT Literacy Week. Lisa Campbell from Yellowknife and Margaret Field from Fort Providence each won Ministerial Literacy Educator awards, also presented at the luncheon Oct. 2.