Gabriel Dumont Institue

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Chris Merasty’s Inspiring Journey Through GDI

Oct 13, 2015

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By James Oloo

Hollywood actor Kevin Conroy once said that “Everyone is handed adversity in life. No one’s journey is easy. It is how they handle it that makes people unique.” Indeed, how people walk their journey in life is what makes some experiences quite inspiring.

While struggling to make ends meet, Christopher Merasty, then a single father of one young girl, Nitanis, looked at his daughter and made the decision that he had to change the direction in his life with hopes of reaching a better destination. His first stop was GDI. He says, “As I walked through the doors at GDI, I had no idea on what I was doing there or where to go, when Dwayne (Docken) took me in, guided me and gave me a chance to enroll in an apprenticeship program.” Chris remembers how, “As I met with Dwayne a few more times, I could imagine myself working in the trades and owning up to the goals I had for myself and my daughter.”

After running all over Saskatoon handing out resume after resume, Chris soon got a job placement with Loraas Disposal under the GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Initiative. The three-year federal Skills and Partnership Fund’s GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Initiative created jobs for over 220 Aboriginal clients including 157 who were indentured with the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trades Certification Commission (SATCC). Chris was indentured with the SATCC as a Year I Heavy Duty Mechanic. That was in 2012.

This month, Chris, brought his daughter Nitanis and spouse Agnes to GDI to discuss his experience with us and to let the “two ladies” know how a previous visit to GDI was a turning point in his life. Chris is now a Jet Bore System operator with Cameco Corporation. His family continues to motivate him to be the best person he can ever be. Chris also gives back to the society by volunteering with Aboriginal organizations. He says, “Back then, I could have never imagined being in a better position than I am in today, owning my own house and a vehicle, thanks to GDI.”

Chris’ journey was, however, not always easy. Before he could be indentured as an apprentice, Chris had to take Accuplacer examination, an experience that he describes as being “challenging.” Accuplacer is a computer-based skill assessment and online learning tool, which helps individuals to improve their literacy and math skills. According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy, Accuplacer is offered at no cost for SATCC apprentice applicants to ensure their preparedness for technical level training (for more about Accuplacer, please click SATCC-Accuplacer or www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4Q6_tMTkbk&feature=youtu.be).

Further, Chris asserted that “Many times, I felt like quitting. It seemed easier to give up.” However, he says that he got the strength and courage to stay on “Thanks to support from GDI, especially Dwayne, working with my Elders and helping out with the Sweat Lodge, as well as my daughter.” His daughter gave him “the urge to keep going so that I could give her a better life than what I had growing up. Plus, I wanted to show her that through struggle and hard work, it is possible to succeed. My daughter still inspires me today, and here she is now listening to this conversation.”

Chris’ message is that, “We all face challenges and struggles in life, but with the guidance and support from organizations, such as GDI, one can overcome these if he (or she) does their best and remains positive and focused on their goals. Positive life changing opportunities come once in a life time, and it is good if that individual is ready to take that opportunity at that time.” He concludes, “I am happy with my life right now, and I am grateful for my family as well as the ones who helped me, especially GDI, Dwayne, my elders and the ones who have been there for me along the way.”

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Gabriel Dumont Institue

GDI is a Saskatchewan-based educational, employment and cultural institute serving Métis across the province

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