Nelson Bird column

It’s graduation time for hundreds of Saskatchewan High school, university and technical school students; it is a time to reflect on all those years of studying and a time to look forward with anticipation to a new chapter in life.

As I get older (I recently turned 50) I tend to look back at my life as a book filled with many chapters. I believe I have many chapters to go before my story is complete. My life story has yet to be written but in my brain the foundation has already been built. Someday I will transfer those thoughts and stories into a computer so I can share my experiences – mistakes included.

But now it’s time for me to share a bit of advice for those who are taking their next journey in life from school to the real world. Whenever I am asked to speak at grads and convocations I like to offer these basic tips.

1. Read lots. Studies show that reading books and magazines decreases your chance of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life. Reading also allows you to experience all kinds of adventures in life without having to leave your living room. You’ll be able to share all kinds of information with your friends and family – whether they want it or not!

2. Laugh and smile often. I’ve made it a goal of mine to make someone laugh, or at least smile, every single day. My jokes and stories  may not be the funniest and people won’t always laugh out loud, but even a faint smile is better than nothing. Try to be around people or things that make you laugh. My wife and I laugh about something every day, and the people I work with share similar senses of humour. At the very least, watch “Just For Laughs – Gags” on the Comedy Network and just try not to laugh.

3. Respect goes both ways. I’ve met people in my life who, for whatever reason, demand respect. It’s been my practice to treat others with respect and what goes around comes around. Respect for people of all ages is something we can all benefit from. Respect for nature, animals, and the environment should also be a priority. As I grow older, I realize more and more the importance of respect for all things. I don’t demand respect from others. I never have. I try to earn respect by treating all people they way I’d like to be treated. Respect the journey of others who have gone on before us. We learn so much from their struggles and the knowledge they have attained. Never forget what others have gone through to be where they are.

4. Keep an open mind. It may sound simple and easy but to me it has been the most important piece of advice ever given to me. My dad Charlie Bird passed that on to me. He was a well-respected man who always told me to accept people for who they are and not to judge them. I’ve found that being open minded has allowed me to flourish in my career and relationships. Take interest in other peoples cultures and lifestyles. We can learn so much from each other and the learning never ends. I’ve been fortunate to meet and make friends with people of all races, ages, genders and backgrounds, and I don’t have a single regret.

5. Set goals. This one may be the easiest. I’ve set goals at every stage of my life since I was a teenager. The best way to do it is to set several small goals that will ultimately result in a large goal being accomplished. For example, when I was in university, my goals were simple; to do my best in classes and to be able to eat regular meals. I knew that if I can to that, I’d eventually reach my goal of graduating. Goals are the key to success.

That is my advice to the class of 2015. This goes to all students, regardless of who you are, where you are, and what you are. I’ve followed those rules all of my life and I will continue to do so. Sometimes will people approach me and say how ‘lucky’ I am for my accomplishments. “It wasn’t luck,” I say. “It was all about determination, ambition and my habit of making things happen.” It was never a breeze. I’ve had my share of ups and downs. There’ve been numerous personal losses in my life but there have also been numerous moments of joy and it’s those times I rely on to keep me grounded and determined.

My next chapter of life awaits me and I look forward to it with great anticipation. Stay tuned for a future update – but for now, I have to inform you this will be my last column for Treaty 4 news. I have enjoyed sharing my views and opinions with you, the readers, and I appreciate the time you took to read my columns over the past year. It has been great to be part of Treaty 4 News since it began, but I now feel it is time for me to move on.

I wish everyone a safe and happy summer, and good fortune for the future.

Nelson Bird is a member of the Peepeekisis First Nation.
The views shared here are those of Nelson Bird and not those of CTV News.




One Response

  1. George

    Wise words Nelson! Your columns are so positive and uplifting!

    Thank You


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