'One proud mom': Mother and son share graduation memories 18 years apart

Cecilia Judas's son is graduating from the same school she graduated from as a young single mom two decades ago in Behchoko, N.W.T.

Cecilia Judas, with her baby son, moved to Behchoko, N.W.T., to attend high school 2 decades ago

Cecilia Judas and Vincent Nasken are both alumni of Chief Jimmy Bruneau Regional High School in Behchoko, N.W.T. (Rignam Wangkhang/CBC)

Vincent Nasken says he's been "waiting for a long time for this day."

Nasken was one of four students to graduate from Chief Jimmy Bruneau High School in Behchoko, N.W.T., on Thursday.

But his graduation marked a more meaningful milestone than his own educational feat: Nasken's mother, Cecilia Judas, graduated from the same school nearly two decades ago while she was a single mother.

Vincent Nasken graduated from high school on Thursday. He spent a part of his childhood running around the hallways of the school when his mother was completing her studies. (Rignam Wangkhang/CBC)

At the age of 20, Judas decided to attend secondary school, and with baby Nasken in her arms, moved into a school residence in Edzo. She was from Wekweeti, N.W.T., where there isn't a high school.

Judas recalls "getting up in the morning, dropping [Nasken] off at daycare, and doing homework late into the night."

"Every break time, we would walk the halls and he would be running in the halls," said Judas.

"It wasn't easy," said Judas. "What got me through it was my mom's encouragement. She never gave up on me."

Judas graduated in 1999, but not without her ups and downs.

Quitting and returning

Nasken said there were times when he gave up going to school.

"He did quit. And he came back, and then he quit again," said Judas. "I told him it's not long… you'll see the light."

Nasken said his mother's encouragement was what helped him get through.

"She kept on pushing me and telling me to go every day," said Nasken.

Tlicho drummers played during the graduation ceremony in Behchoko, N.W.T., on Thursday. (Rignam Wangkhang/CBC)

Judas said she understood exactly what her son was going through.

"Coming back and accomplishing it was very nerve-racking, and I wanted to give up."

Now both are graduates of Chief Jimmy Bruneau High School.

"I'm one proud mom," said Judas. "Words cannot describe how I feel."

But she has some advice for her fellow alumni son.

"This is not the end. This is the beginning," she said. "[Find] your calling."

With files from Rignam Wangkhang