Mother and son graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University together
For one mother and son, it’s a journey that not many go on together. Lila Bruyere and Shawn Johnston have spent the past year as classmates at Wilfrid Laurier University.
They moved to Waterloo Region from Couchiching First Nation, so they could both pursue master's degrees in social work.
“When I did a lot of my papers I would send them to him and get him to proofread them and he would do the same for me. We'd do PowerPoints together and stuff like that so it's pretty cool,” says Bruyere.
Bruyere, who's now 61, spent childhood in a residential school. She says getting her Master’s was on her bucket list, but it took time at several different schools for her to reach that level. It’s an accomplishment that inspired her son.
“There (weren’t) many role models for me growing up as a youth,” says Johnston.
She was there for him as he battled addictions with drugs and alcohol, and helped him get back on his feet.
“I had no one else to turn to. I’d lost all my friends, I’d burned all my bridges, I really didn't have anywhere else to go,” says Johnston.
While it may be common for children to follow in their parents' footsteps, no one at Wilfrid Laurier University can remember seeing this kind of situation before.
“To be doing it at the same time, simultaneously, I’ve never heard of that. I think it's really special,” says Wilfrid Laurier University Dean of Students Leanne Holland.
Bruyereand Johnstonwill finish their classes in June and they plan to graduate together this fall. The two say they won't be competing for jobs. Bruyerehopes to work with residential school survivors and Johnstonis focusing on helping Aboriginal students.