For more than a decade George Fraser has been supporting secondary students in Williams Lake.
“I absolutely love it,” he said of his job as a First Nations support worker at Lake City Secondary Columneetza Campus.
“It’s much better working with kids than with adults — it’s a lot more fun,” he added, smiling.
During a rugby game at the school field, Thursday, Sept. 23, several students approached Fraser and chatted.
While one student asked to borrow money and another student wanted to complain about someone else, it was apparent Fraser wanted to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
It was also evident the students trusted him and felt comfortable talking with him.
Fraser was born on June 24, 1973 in Williams Lake.
He attended Glendale, Anne Stevenson and Columneetza schools.
“When I was a kid it was totally different in Williams Lake than it is now,” he said. “There were not a whole lot of businesses on Mackenzie Avenue and growing up at Green Acres we had to come home when the lights went on. If you were hungry you came home, if not you were on your own until you got home.”
As a kid, he enjoyed long days playing up and down in the river valley right behind Green Acres.
He also played ball hockey and was in a league for a few years.
After graduation from high school, Fraser had a family. Today he has three grown adult children — Colton, 27, Karamyn, 26, and Wesley, 19.
His oldest daughter, Lori, who would have been 28 this year, died in January 2021 from diabetes, he said.
Fraser worked in different restaurant kitchens in Williams Lake and took some courses toward a social work certificate at the University College of the Cariboo in Williams Lake.
For three and half years he worked with youth for the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District and was the resident computer guy.
“If any issues came up on the computers I had to deal with them,” he recalled.
On Feb. 12, 2007 he got his first permanent posting with School District 27 at Kwaleen Elementary School.
“I came over to Columneetza to work in the dorm on night shift, but that closed down after two years.”
Because he worked graveyard, he saw the students in the morning during his last hour at work.
“I would flick “Good Morning Vietnam” on the PA in the dorm to wake up the students, tell them the weather, what was for breakfast in the cafeteria and remind them what block they started with.”
He said he started doing that to support the students getting to school on time because he heard a few of them were getting yelled at for being late.
After the dorm position ended, he went to work at Cataline Elementary School for a year, while also working at Columneetza part-time to cover for a person who was doing schooling.
One day Joan Gentles, who was district principal at the time, asked Fraser how he was doing.
“I told her there were not enough hours in the day and I could not catch up. She said that is exactly what she needed to know and that was how I ended up with a position at Williams Lake Secondary.”
The next year, Gentles increased the hours for both high schools for the male First Nations support worker, and Fraser’s being doing that job ever since.
As he looks to the future, Fraser said he anticipates staying with the job for many, many years.
With his youngest child graduated, and himself no longer being a soccer coach and fan, Fraser said he is also trying to figure out what to do with his free time.
One interesting fact many people may not know is that years ago Fraser was part of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
“I recreated the most romantic version of the Medieval Renaissance period,” he said, adding he attended several tournaments and did a lot of fencing.
Fraser has Secwepemc and Cree heritage, but said he does not know if anyone in his own family attended residential school.
As Canada marks its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, he said it is the beginning of a slow process.
“I can see that it is going to take some time. At least there has been some recognition about it and realization that things need to change for everyone. I am glad they made it into a national holiday to recognize the survivors and everyone that did not make hit home.”
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