While in high school, now 24 year old Gabrielle Fayant never imagined that she would one day become a successful university student and vocal advocate for Aboriginal rights. “I was a bit of a slacker who took a while to finish high school,” admits Gabrielle. While in adult high school, Gabrielle admits that she lacked the confidence it took to succeed in college or university. However, she always “felt that [she] could do more” and sought out the Aboriginal Enriched Support Program (AESP) at Carleton University. Gabrielle asserts that she specifically chose Carleton for AESP, and is delighted that she has been able to connect to her Métis heritage and ignite her own activism locally and on a national scale.
As a part-time psychology student who works full-time for a national Aboriginal organization, Gabrielle acknowledges the self-assurance she has gained from going to university. Being a student has been a “personal growing experience”, one which is enriched by courses with Aboriginal content and the vibrant and growing Aboriginal community at Carleton. “The elders, students, Aboriginal Liaison Officers and others are always here to help you no matter what,” said Gabrielle. Gabrielle insists that she is humbled by her experience at Carleton; prior to attending university she did not realize how much passion she had for Aboriginal rights. A passion that has translated into her involvement in many committees, events and organizations which seek to improve the lives of Aboriginal women, youth and families.
Gabrielle is a testament to the poise and resilience of Aboriginal women. She unequivocally challenged the barriers of having grown up in extreme poverty coupled with a lack of self-confidence and seemingly poor performance in high school. By taking a chance on herself, and through a lot of hard work and determination, she came out victorious and doesn’t intend to stop here. According to her, “I came from the gutter to be where I am today.” Gabrielle says she feels at home in Carleton’s Aboriginal community and we are incredibly fortunate to have her as a part of our family.