Adult graduation not easy, says N.W.T. father of 2

Floyd Bishop, father of 2, graduated high school Thursday in the small community of Whati. It was a long time in coming, he says.

Dropping high school for work seemed OK for Floyd Bishop, but finishing as an adult was hard

Floyd Bishop with his boys after graduating in Whati, N.W.T., Thursday. Bishop said getting his high school diploma as an adult was more difficult than expected. (Emily Blake/CBC)

Floyd Bishop thought finishing high school as an adult would be easy. It wasn't.

As a young man the arrival of his first son meant the end of high school studies in exchange for a steady paycheque and the duties of parenthood.

Bishop later had another boy, which pushed finishing high school further beyond his grasp.

But he graduated in Whati, N.W.T., on Thursday, surrounded by his boys and family.

"I finally made it," Bishop said in the hours before his graduation ceremony. "I thought it would be easy to go upgrade and whatnot but in reality … It's kind of tough."

Bishop, who is from Behchoko but has been living in Wahti for the past couple of years, said many doors are closed to a person without a high school diploma. Once a dropout is in the workforce with adult responsibilities, finishing school is no easy thing.

"As a young parent when I first had my son, I … dropped out and thought working would be OK," Bishop said.

"But at the end I needed to get my diploma to get a better job and career. Instead of just doing the same thing every day and not going nowhere."

Floyd Bishop with his mother Sheila Bishop at Floyd's graduation in Whati. (Emily Blake/CBC)

Tattoos drip down from under his shirt cuffs, and cover his left hand and knuckles. They also pop up above his shirt collar along his neck. Bishop says he's a tattoo artist and plans to get more training, apply for a business license, and open his own shop someday in the North.

Graduating high school is a big step along that path, something which his family had always encouraged him to do.

"I kept thinking of my future and my kids future and my future grandkids," he said. It's "something that my father was wanting me to do. He always complained … telling me, 'Go back to school, make something out of yourself!'"

Bishop's father didn't live to see him graduate, but his mother was there. Bishop said without his mom's help, he wouldn't be where he is now.

"I'm so proud of him," Sheila Bishop said. "I encouraged him to finish school. It's never too late, you're never too old."

Written by Walter Strong, based on an interview done by Lawrence Nayally


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