Elaine Thomas says it was her daughter that inspired her to get her Indian Social Work degree, because of her interest in working with children. So, Elaine accepted the challenge and made the move from her home reserve to pursue her dreams.
Elaine was accepted into the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC) in 1988, three years after her daughter was born. At the time they were living on her home reserve, Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation, on social assistance.
The birth of her daughter, Carlita, made her realize she wanted work with children.
“She was my drive, [and] she was the one that gave me my motivation,” says Elaine.
With all the support of the Elders, administration staff, professors, and meeting lifelong friends at SIFC, Elaine was able to complete her four year degree program and obtain a Bachelor of Indian Social Work in three years by enrolling in spring and summer classes.
The challenges of learning the different styles of essays, juggling being a full-time student, and parenting a toddler didn’t prevent Elaine from being positive and determined to finish her education.
While attending SIFC, Elaine also enjoyed the opportunity to learn the traditional teachings and history of Aboriginal people, as she didn’t get much of an opportunity to learn this in high school. The comfort of having the Elders and support systems helped keep her focused on her journey through university.
After graduation, Elaine worked in various departments in education as a Guidance Counselor, Aboriginal Child Welfare, and with the Provincial Children’s Advocate Office as an Advocate for children and youth. She has worked hard to get to where she is now and wouldn’t change it for the world.
“The last 25 years has been working with children and their families,” says Elaine. “I love my job, that’s my passion, working with these children.”
Elaine has been married to Edgar Thomas for the last 21 years; the pair have two children and two grandchildren. Elaine and Edgar live on the Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation where they are both employed with the Department of Education.