Third Times the Charm – Meet Ashley Barnaby

Not everyone is lucky enough to get a second chance, let alone a third one. But for Unama鈥檏i College student, Ashley Barnaby, the third time’s the charm. The unique In-Community program offered exclusively at Unama鈥檏i College has given Ashley another opportunity at higher education, one that she is incredibly grateful for. This spring, Ashley will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Community Studies from CBU.聽

Living in Listuguj First Nation in the Gespe鈥檊ewa鈥檊i Territory, Ashley graduated from Sugarloaf Senior High School back in 2005 and from there, headed off to Mount Allison University. Unfortunately, Ashley wasn鈥檛 as prepared for university as she thought she was. 鈥淚 did not have the discipline I needed back then,鈥 she says.聽 鈥淎nd unfortunately, I was not successful academically at Mount Allison.鈥 A few years later, Ashley began a Bachelor of Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick but did not complete the degree. After some time working in IT, Ashley came to a life-changing realization. 鈥淚 knew it was not what I wanted to do with my life,鈥 she says. 鈥 So I began exploring a new path.鈥

Ashley originally intended on going to St. Thomas University to enter the Mi鈥檏maq Maliseet Bachelor of Social Work (MMBSW) program but was told she did not have the credits required to enter. When word began to circulate about CBU鈥檚 In-Community program being offered in her home community, she jumped at the idea. 鈥淚 knew it was the perfect opportunity for me,鈥 says Ashley. 鈥淎t this point in my life, I was more disciplined and had much more life experience. I knew I could handle the workload of working full-time in the days and attending university full-time in the evenings.鈥澛

Ashley attended classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-8:30pm, with one six-hour class per month on Saturday. Her average day consisted of her working her full-time job at the Listuguj Mi鈥檊maq Development Centre all day, then heading home to grab a quick supper so she could be in class for 5:30pm. 鈥淥ne thing I loved about my evening classes is that we always did a check-in,鈥 Ashley says. 鈥淗aving these check-ins with each other about the realities of everyday life and stress over school and homework, allowed us to see we were not alone and that support was always there.鈥

Being able to study at home was a major driving force behind Ashley鈥檚 commitment to the program. 鈥淏eing able to study in my home community was very important, especially since we were doing the Community Studies degree,鈥 she says. 鈥淲e were able to create relevant projects geared toward our community of Listuguj, that some directorates have used as a basis for their programming.鈥

But being in-community wasn鈥檛 the only thing that made this journey special, because one of Ashley鈥檚 classmates was a very important member of her family. 鈥淚 was fortunate enough to take this program alongside my mother, who is 61 years old. We were each other’s rock throughout the experience,鈥 she shares. 鈥淲hen she felt like throwing the towel because it was too much, I would encourage her to just get through another month and then another month. She did the same for me as well.鈥

Though this journey was challenging for Ashley at times, she found solace in the people she shared the journey with. 鈥淵ou gain a sense of community in the classroom itself. My classmates became more than just classmates; we quickly became like a second family,鈥 shares Ashley. Those taking the course weren鈥檛 the only ones who helped Ashley along, as many of her instructors were from the community too. 鈥淭hey understand the culture and language, and how to connect the course material to Indigenous ways of knowing and being,鈥 she adds.聽

Ashley says the program鈥檚 flexible schedule allowed her to keep her full-time job so she could support herself along the way, something that was crucial to her success.聽 Along the way, Ashley created so many memories she will cherish forever, like participating in her first sweat lodge and obtaining her spirit name. 鈥淚 hope Listuguj continues its partnership with Unama鈥檏i College so we can continue to bring more programs to the community to help educate and build our people up,鈥 says Ashley. 鈥淗aving the opportunity to get not only a second chance but a third, came at the right time in my life. I honestly would have never finished my post-secondary education had it not been offered through the In-Community program.鈥