It has been a lifelong dream of Jacque/line Lavallee to receive a doctorate in education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, reports CTV National News.
The 79-year-old great-grandmother, who is Indigenous, told the news outlet that her father was her inspiration for continuing her education.
“I only knew him for a short time when I was a kid, but he always stated, ‘When you get big, when you become a woman, you need to pursue the educational field,’” said Lavallee, who is an Elder-in-residence at OISE.
Lavallee’s doctoral research focused on the importance of Anishinaabe traditional knowledge in higher education. She centered it around her own story of education and her experiences as a residential school survivor.
“The rest of the world doesn't understand what traditional knowledge is,” she said. “It's oral. It's always spoken. It's not written down on some paper. If you want to learn something, you have to go look at look for it.”