‘I understand where you’re coming from.’

By Sucheta Singh, Marketing and Communications
Photo by David Denofreo

It wasn’t easy getting there, but Ravina Dhaliwal is doing what she’s wanted to do since she was 14: help young Aboriginal people succeed.

A graduate of the Douglas College Child and Youth Care Diploma program, Ravina, now 23, is an Indigenous Connections Worker at the Surrey Friendship Centre with First Nations youth. She provides cultural support, which includes teaching young people how to do traditional First Nations beadwork. Ravina also hosts weekly workshops that help them find a career they can be passionate about.

“I do one on ones with youth where I connect them with post-secondary education, financial assistance, housing, jobs and everything in between,” says Ravina, whose mother is Indigenous and her father Indo-Canadian.

Her journey to get this far had its hurdles. In Grade 11, she became pregnant. As it turned out, so did her high school counsellor. She says the two bonded, and it was this counsellor who pointed her toward Douglas and the Child and Youth Care program.

Ravina enrolled in the Aboriginal Stream, taking courses developed in partnership with local First Nations groups and taught by First Nations and Métis faculty.

“Having that understanding of colonization and history, and living it myself, was very helpful.”

She says her experience at Douglas helped her with more than just getting a career.

“My son is growing up, and he’s such a compassionate and kind little man. The Douglas College Child and Youth Care program actually helped me be a better parent.”

Ravina hopes to return to Douglas to complete the Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care before moving on to a master’s.

For now, she says she wants to be that person in someone’s life who can help guide them toward success.

“It’s nice to be able to say, ‘I understand where you’re coming from.’ It makes them feel like they’re not alone.”

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