Michelle Bryant

Mike Jackson | Evan Adams | Michelle Bryant | Candis Callison | Ian Campbell | Bernard Casavant | Stacey Edzerza | Lenny Fisher | Dave Griffin | Trevor A. Joe | Tewanee Joseph | Rose Lesner | Duncan McCue | Carey Newman | Cherie Joy Rochelle Peal | Jason Rock | Lisa Sam

Michelle Bryant is from the Tsimshian Nation and the village of Lax Kwala’ams. Her Aboriginal name is “Bilha’m nelx”, meaning “Pearl on the fin of the killerwhale” which was handed down to her through her great-grandfather, Hereditary Chief Lais. Michelle is a teacher of grades 2 and 3 at Skaadgaa Naay Elementary School in Skidegate.

When Michelle was just a young girl, Michelle’s aunt, who was a teacher, gave her a gigantic chalkboard and Michelle gathered all of the neighbourhood kids at “school” in the carport of her house. She even gave the kids homework. Amazingly enough, they did it. It seems that even at this young age Michelle was a natural teacher.

But this wasn’t always clear to her. In junior high, Michelle found that boundaries were drawn between natives and whites. She became very unhappy with school and put her dream of being a teacher aside.

It wasn’t until much later when she was studying Commerce in university that her childhood dream of teaching re-emerged. She decided to switch to the Education Program and become a teacher.

While she was in school studying to become a teacher, Michelle realized that very little was taught to most student teachers about BC First Nations peoples. She also found that many school textbooks described Aboriginal peoples in stereotypical ways or didn’t mention them at all. She was determined to change that.

Today, leading a class of grade 2 and 3 students, Michelle works to build a bridge between the school and local First Nations. Some of her activities include organizing field trips to the local Band and making opportunities for the students to speak with First Nations leaders and elders.

“For me, it’s all about change. I want to make a difference and I want to create change. Teaching is my way of doing that,” says Michelle.

“Being a teacher is the greatest thing in the world. To see a student’s face when they are struggling, then when they finally get it and that light bulb goes on – their face becomes so bright. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”

Stepping Stones
How did you get to where you are now?

Michelle Bryant
High School Northwest Community College Malaspina University College Practicum Teaching at Skaadgaa Naay Elementary School Pursuing Masters Degree in School Administration

Thinking About School
“Life is going to hand you difficult things, but it’s the way you deal with them that makes the difference. Walking away from your problems will not make your problems go away. Times might get tough at school and in other areas of your life, but never give up, and never be afraid to ask for help.”
– Michelle

Copyright 2012 First Nations Education Steering Committee and First Nations Schools Association