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Success Story — Lynn

LYNN PAULA MAHMOOD was born and raised in Southampton Ontario by her Grandparents. She is a intergenerational Indian Residential School and Sixities Scoop Survivor from the ages of one to six years old. Lynn is from Saugeen First Nation and a member of the Bear Clan. Her traditional name is Mskom Gizi Kwe that translates to Strong Eagle Woman. Lynn is a proud Ojibway Woman whose cultural traditions, language and teachings from elders and healers have inspired her growth, learning and her spirit as a traditional dancer.

After becoming a young mother at the age of 15, Lynn was unable to continue her formal education. She chose to raise her four children with success and welcomed two granddaughters to the family. Throughout her years as a parent she continued to take advantage of programs that would eventually allow her to fulfill her long term educational goals. In 2004, she returned to Toronto, a place where she visited her family during the summers. Lynn was ready to pursue work and more serious academic challenges.

Lynn heard about Miziwe Biik from family and friends who had accessed employment training and skills certification services at the Centre. She reached out to staff to get assistance with developing her own career path. At Miziwe Biik, Lynn was able to access services that included certifications in First Aid & CPR and Smart Serve, attend training programs like the Small Business Certificate and Healthy Culinary program at George Brown College, access assistance with the Post Secondary Bursary and Transportation Allowance, and attend other opportunities like Dress for Success. More importantly, Miziwe Biik helped Lynn to connect with school programs and work placements that would help her attain her employment goals. “Miziwe Biik has great employees who help you to succeed. They have taught me how to thrive by taking my education as far as I can go.”

Lynn’s first big step towards a career came through the Community Health Worker training program at Anishnawbe Health Toronto, a program funded by Miziwe Biik. Lynn’s passion for social work revealed itself through her growing interest to serve her community and help those who shared a difficult path towards healing and fulfillment.

Through a partnership with George Brown College, Lynn attended culturally based training with college certification and admittance into the school’s Community Worker Diploma Program. The program offers an excellent foundation of on-the-job–training and course work covering four main areas: Traditional Health, Community Development, Communications, Presentation Skills, Health Promotion, and Advocacy and Counselling.

Having successfully completed the George Brown program, Lynn was able to leverage her Diploma, entering the Bachelor of Social Work at Ryerson University into the second year with advance standing. She is currently in the fourth year of the program, working on her practicum hours at Anishnawbe Health Toronto. Lynn’s current placement is at Four Winds as a Program Support Worker at the Parkdale Community Health Centre. The Four Winds program is focused on providing culturally specific Indigenous supports and access to healing ceremonies, health education with a focus on diabetes (prevention & education). Lynn also focuses on case management supports, access to primary care and harm reduction supports, and social recreation activities to build social connections and support after her placement.

Once she completes her degree, Lynn sees herself continuing her training and employment journey by entering a Masters program in Social Work at the University of Toronto, specializing in Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency. Beyond that, a goal she has set out for herself includes working in mainstream support systems such as Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Lynn wants to ensure that there is Indigenous representation within the institutions that determine how the needs of our community are identified and how they are met.