Aaron Bowerman’s passion for travel, his people and his culture are rooted in his experiences. The 26-year old native journeyed from Manitoulin Island to Windsor and now to Toronto in pursuit of a post-secondary education in the tourism industry.
Admitting he didn’t do so well in Windsor, Bowerman then enrolled in the tourism management – travel industry services program at Humber College and is now in his final year.
The eldest of seven children, Bowerman lived his entire life on a reserve called Sheguiandah First Nations before deciding on his move to Toronto. When asked about his life on the reserve, Bowerman said there wasn’t much to do.
“It’s very small. There can be a lot of violence, a lot of drug use. Everyone knows everyone’s business. There isn’t much for the youths there that’s why they sometimes go down bad roads because there’s rarely stuff to do,” he said.
After graduation, Bowerman says he will look into a career in social work where he can better address Aboriginal issues. His plan is to return to the Shenguiandah.
“I love my community. It’s my home. I plan on doing so much for my people and preserving my culture,” said Bowerman
Though Toronto is his stepping-stone for a better life, Bowerman admits living in the city does have its challenges. Challenges he wasn’t prepared for.
“Toronto is very different that’s for sure. It’s busier, a lot more people. You don’t know anybody. When I first move, there wasn’t a very large aboriginal community that I knew of,” he said.
Bowerman began to miss home.
“You feel sorta secluded like you can’t really find a connection with anyone. When I first went to Windsor I had lots of friends from different backgrounds but I was feeling really homesick. Like I just wanted see another native person,’’ he said.
This would soon change for Bowerman. After being enrolled at Humber College, Bowerman said he learned of the Aboriginal Student Resource Centre in his second semester. It provided a sense of home.
“When I didn’t know about the Aboriginal Resource Centre it was go to class, then do nothing, then go home. Now that I have the Aboriginal Resource Centre it’s somewhere to hang out and there’s always someone to talk to,” said Bowerman.
The Humber College Aboriginal Resource Centre was established to help transition students like Bowerman in college life and beyond. Bowerman is now working as a work-study student within the department.
Aboriginal Resource Centre coordinator Jessica Medeiros said their mandate is to provide various support for aboriginal Students at Humber College.
“We provide a wide range of services and hosts events and socials to foster an Aboriginal Community on campus,” said Medeiros.
“They come into the Centre and meet other aboriginal students and form a community where they develop relationships. This helps in their success at Humber College,” she said.
The Centre is facilitating the needs of over 500 aboriginal students but is also open to all students at Humber who would like to know more about the community or get involved through volunteering.