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Learner story archives

June 21, 2010

The following story was written by Autumn Lane Rice, from Kahnawake, Quebec. Autumn Lane is enrolled in literacy classes at the Chateauguay Valley Literacy Council. In 2006, she was given a Recognition Award for Adult Literacy, sponsored by a partnership of Quebec adult literacy and adult education organizations, in collaboration with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. Autumn Lane also won the Council of Federation Award in 2008, presented by the Premier of Quebec.


by Autumn Lane Rice

Hi my name is Autumn Lane Rice. Here is my story, why I had trouble with reading and writing. From the time I was young, whole life was unbearable with psychological, physical, verbal set sexual abuse. My mother goes out every Thursday night. We have a babysitter. The babysitter, physically and sexually abuse me. I told my mother about the abuse, but all she did was to beat me. The sexual abuse went on for two years. I told my mother about it, but she did not believe me. My mother never cared for me or loved me. I was always beaten by my mother for no reason I felt she hated me.

At school, I could never show how smart I was because of repercussions with the smart girls. Smart girls made fun of me, constantly teasing me. Everywhere I went even away from school, someone always made my life even more miserable. There was no one to go tell what was happening at school, or home, I was very shy and talked very little. I rarely even lifted up my head to talk. In high school, life got even worse.

My father was an ironworker, but he had a gambling addiction. We had nothing to eat, no clothes to wear, no winter boots, or winter clothes. The other kids made fun of my funny looking clothes. The other kids had nice clothes to wear. Being a teenager was even worse. I was always hungry and cold. The other teenagers make my life even more miserable at school in the community and home life. I couldn't concentrate on school work. There were no tutors.

No one even wondered what was going on with me. I was always walking around with my head down, no eye contact. I talked with my head down.

How much more abuse, could I endure in my life. I went through domestic abuse with my ex-boyfriend. When my daughter was five years old, she was taken away from us and put in foster care. I almost mentally snapped. I grasped at straws, when my daughter Lily was taken away from me. It's been nine years since I had my daughter. It has taken everything inside of me to become strong again for my daughter.

There were several people who were very supportive within the literacy council. Within my community, the elderly, friends, and family member. My father James, step mother, Shirley, cousin Mary Jane, my very good friends Peter and Bill, the healing lodge, and the healers. Last but not least, my sister Joy, who looks after Lily. My biggest inspiration is my daughter Lily.

When I won the Council of Federation award a certificate and a medallion was presented to me from Jean Charest on October 28, 2008 in Québec city. It was a real awakening. It proved that I had some potential. The ”speaking up and speaking out”, (of Literacy Volunteers of Quebec) was also an inspiration. The black cloud was finally lifted.

My daughter said to me mommy. Quit your job and go back to school I applied to go to Concordia University for Human Relations in the fall. The second weekend of "speaking up and speaking out" gave me more confidence, self-esteem so that I can go on with my life. When one is labeled a bad parent, has low self-esteem, no-confidence, no support, emotional problems. I now can see why I had trouble with reading and writing.

In June, I'm going to regain custody of my daughter Lily. I'm not leaving the courtroom without my daughter. Social workers have told lies about me. The legal aid lawyer assigned to me is an alcoholic. The whole system discredits me in the court. A psychologist doesn't even really know you, they say what they want. Obvious the whole system in foster care needs changes. A parent feels terrible that the child doesn't live with them. The parent and child are psychologically affected how much more can a parent endure. When I reach my goal that is my goal. I would like to help people who need great support, understanding to pursue their dreams. My dream is to become a counsellor, a psychologist, or maybe even a lawyer.

[This story was taken with permission, from "2009 Recognition Awards for Adult Literacy - Submissions", published by Literacy Volunteers of Quebec (LVQ).]

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