People of Georgian: Alumna reconnects with Indigenous culture, finds purpose

What’s your story?

The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Alicia Thompson

My father was adopted when he was younger and, unfortunately, never got his Indigenous cultural teachings or language.

And because of that, he wasn’t able to pass those on to me.

When you are disconnected from your culture, purpose and belonging, you feel a bit lost. It’s one of those stages of life, a wandering stage, when you’re trying to figure out who you are, where you belong and what you’re meant to do.

For me, that stage was tough and made me feel weak at times. I didn’t know why I felt different as a child or what I was searching for.

A person wearing a navy shirt and ball cap holds up two small, white dogs.
Alicia with her dogs, Tawa and Luna.

Making sense of the missing pieces

I was missing my connection to my Indigenous heritage for a long time growing up until I received my spirit name – Manidoo Kwe, which means Spirit Woman – around age 16. It just really resonated with me.

For instance, I’ve always felt connected to the spiritual element of things – plants, animals. In my youth, I had no idea what that meant, but now I believe these were in my blood memory from my ancestors and my past.

Getting my spirit name was when things really hit home for me and I was able to start reconnecting with my culture and language. That was a really pivotal point in my life when I realized, “OK, this is who I am.” That guided the way for me.

Attending Georgian’s Indigenous Community and Social Development program is what really started to open those doors for me.

We learned a lot about our identity, our purpose, our belonging, and I was able to start putting those into place in my life.

A person wearing a blue convocation robe stands behind a marquee sign reading #GeorgianProud.
Alicia went back to school around age 30.

Finding purpose through helping others

I want my career to be about helping people and families. Helping others is what I’m passionate about.

Some of that passion comes from my mom, who has a big heart, is always supportive and is someone people often look to for strength and guidance.

I also think I’ve carried a passion for helping with me since I was a child. It’s one of my gifts, which goes along with purpose and belonging.

One of the best parts of my job at Georgian is sharing my story with others. When I speak to prospective students, I get to share my own strength.

I tell them I went back to school as a mature student, despite having lots going on in my life and a lot of responsibilities and I wasn’t sure it was possible to get it done – but I did it.

I see a spark in their eyes and motivation grow. That’s what means the most to me.

Alicia Thompson, Manidoo Kwe (Spirit Woman), Community Liaison Officer, Indigenous Services at Georgian and alumna of the college’s Indigenous Community and Social Development program (class of 2022).

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