Jacob Lightning is a participant in our mentorship program. He has recently been connected with Bob as his mentor. We asked Jacob some questions about his journey in the mentorship program and with his goals so far.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am First Nations (Cree and Stoney Nakoda), and I come from the Morley reservation. I grew up there for most of my life; I came up to Calgary to secure a better future for me and my family, because it is just my siblings and I left. I try to be a better role model for them and try to help them with motivation and confidence in themselves, because when I was growing up I was pretty directionless, and I never expected myself to amount to much to be honest. In that environment on the reservation, it didn’t exactly give you a healthy mindset especially when you’re surrounded with people that always put you down, and I didn’t want that for my siblings so I decided to try as best I could and see how far I can make it. I am almost in my program now and I feel really great about that. I am trying my best to encourage my younger siblings to pursue their education too, so we can break past the poverty barrier.
What made your decision to join the mentorship group?
Well this also goes back to the reservation, I guess you live in a pretty sheltered environment or what not, and once you’ve finished high school, whatever little friends you did have in H.S., you just hung out with them. I was already anti–social when I was younger. I joined the mentorship group to broaden my social circle, learn more about myself and how to handle the city life a lot better; it definitely is a lot different from the reservation and so far I think it has helped me very much.
Since joining the mentorship group, how has it altered your lifestyle for the better?
I feel social interactions are becoming a lot easier and it has definitely helped with the boredom around here. The first few months in Calgary, I wanted to move back to the reservation because it felt more isolating in the city; I had to learn how to make more friends. They had the monthly hangouts and they were pretty cool social events that I always looked forward to. It definitely helped me with the social aspect.
How is Bob as a mentor, and how has the journey been going so far?
He’s a pretty cool guy, laid back, a welcoming personality, you don’t feel left out, really easy to get comfortable with, you can talk about anything with him, and he has really good advice. This spring semester at University, I was really stressed because I didn’t really prepare before the semester started so I felt like I was a fish out–of–water, I guess. I was making things worse for myself by stressing myself out, and having the negative mindset of getting the work done as fast and as hard as I can without paying any attention to my own mental health. Bob understood and he was really helpful with that thus, giving me a lot of good pointers. Overall I think he is a good person.
Are there any individual accomplishments that you are proud of?
I’m taking this class for spring called UGST at Mount Royal University, which is mostly centred around effective coping mechanisms for stress and change, something I actually needed for this semester. One of the concepts they talked about was learning to forgive, like even to forgive people for smaller inconveniences because I never realized how much small little situations affected me. There are these exercises where you basically do these practices like meditation: write in your journal, write down your thoughts and let your anger out, and try and forgive this person or whoever. I’ve tried this method, and it actually makes me feel a lot better, because I didn’t realize how small inconveniences had made me kind of angry or grumpy. Once practicing these more I feel it is an accomplishment in itself. One of the things I like about it is learning to forgive myself, learning to accept things, and moving–on.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Hopefully with a degree. I haven’t found a concrete plan right now, but, so far I am going to keep moving forward no matter what happens; I have come this far and I am not going to drop out. I like what I am doing right now and I am happy, more happy than I have been in a long time. I do have my slumps, but I always bounce back. I was talking to a friend at Iniskim Center at MRU, and he was equating your progress to a graphic equation. Where the graphs that go up and down, he said, “you can take your progress and interpret it ‘linearly’, in a linear manner, basically even though it moves up and down, it is still moving up.” It has honestly made me see things in a better perspective.
If there are any obstacles/challenges that you see in the city for youth, what are they and how do you see them no longer being challenges in the future?
Current challenges for people younger than I am: I’d say positive outlets for creativity or at least just activities. I feel like if there was a stronger community it would be easier for them to stay on the right track. And to overcome these challenges; programs like Canada Bridges are good for younger people.