Don't take no for an answer when it comes to pursuing your dreams, Canada Reads author, and University of Ottawa law professor Tracey Lindberg told students at Dennis Franklin Cromarty high school in Thunder Bay, Ont, during a visit to the city on March 7.
The school is run by the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council, and serves about 100 students from remote fly-in First Nations communities in Ontario.
The theme for Canada Reads 2016 is starting over. It's also a theme which permeates Lindberg's novel Birdie, and is something Lindberg is familiar with in her own life.
Lindberg is from the Kelly Lake Cree Nation in northern British Columbia. As she explained to the students, the path to her chosen career was a difficult one and included sexual abuse.
After a year at the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program, Lindberg found that things were starting to click.
"I started to figure out that those things that I liked in high school — words, and storytelling and listening to people and books — I could focus in on those as I got to university too, and make that my thing."
'I want to be a lawyer'
She said her grades started to improve as did her confidence.
By her final year, Lindberg was willing to say "that one private dream that I had in my head that I never said out loud, I want to be a lawyer. And I had always wanted to be a lawyer."
Lindberg is believed to be the first Indigenous woman in Canada to have received a doctorate in laws, which she received from the University of Saskatchewan.
But her dreams didn't stop there. Lindberg wanted to apply to graduate school at Harvard.
"When I was growing up, I heard a lot of no's," she said. "By the time I got to university I decided — and if I have any lessons for you, maybe this is one of them — that I was never going to hear the 'no' again."
"There would be no more no's for me," she added.
Harvard said yes.
Lindberg's words resonated with grade 12 student Julian Meekis, who said he's wanted to be a lawyer since he was in grade 7.
"When somebody has something that they achieved from school, it gives you a boost," said Meekis.
"[It] Inspired me to want to look into law school more, a lot more. Especially for an Indigenous man."