Changing direction is a skill some people have mastered
- Liam O’Connor | March 17, 2023
Dodie Ferguson is not afraid to challenge herself.
She has worn many hats, including aspiring teacher, stay-at-home mom, letter carrier, advocate, curriculum developer and consultant.
Although she’s almost 50, Ferguson has returned to university to pursue a degree in environmental studies, proving it’s never too late to change career paths.
Originally, right after high school, she enrolled in education classes, but after three years, she decided to be a stay-at-home mom.
“I didn’t think I could be a good teacher and a good parent at the same time,” said Ferguson. “I was doing really well in school, I just realized it wasn’t for me. So, I decided to take a break.”
At the time, she and her husband were working at a casino when they agreed one of them needed to be at home with the kids while the other worked.
Growing up, Ferguson’s family, like many others, was impacted by the Indian Residential School system and faced socio-economic conditions, including addiction, suicide and domestic violence.
As a result, she was determined to make certain she gave her children the best possible start in life.
“We actually did rock-paper-scissors, best of the three, to see who would stay home with the kids,” said Ferguson.
In the long run, the decision paid off because her grandchildren are benefitting from two generations of healthy, loving and proactive parenting.
Once her kids were old enough, Ferguson went back to work.
She became a Canada-Post letter carrier, a position she held for 15 years. Rain or shine, each week Ferguson walked a marathon with up to 30 pounds of letters strapped to her body.
During her role as a letter carrier, she became a fierce labour advocate and organizer.
Ferguson was the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) executive committee member relay for Canada Post and the executive member of the Regional District Labour Council.
“I had pride in what I did as a postal worker, but I had immense satisfaction in helping settler folk who were willing to learn understand the Indigenous perspective,” she said.
This position gave Ferguson the platform to discuss with other labour leaders how they could help their own workers better understand the conditions that led to Canada‘s current relationship with Indigenous people.
The once budding teacher began to regularly teach courses for SFL with a curriculum created entirely by herself.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Ferguson made a decision.
“For the first year of the pandemic, I sat at home trying to figure out what to do with my life,” she said. “In the fall of that year, I said to myself, ‘I need to do something to make change.’”
Ferguson was a part of the Idle No More movement in Regina and met with MPs, MLAs and Senators, but said there was always a barrier when talking to powerful people or institutions about environmental issues because she didn’t have a university degree.
“I want to be able to walk in there confidently, knowing what I know and be able to speak and debate,” she said.
This time around with no children at home there was no need for a rock-paper-scissors battle with her husband.
She enrolled in classes and also continues to deliver the courses she created to organizations and groups.
Ferguson is hopeful once she’s finished her degree, she’ll be able to work in policy for the benefit of Indigenous people.