Finding a home

How one student discovered her path after leaving foster care

Finding a home
CategoryStudent
NameVerukah Poirier
FromCree and Métis | Williams Lake, BC
ProgramFirst Nations and Indigenous Studies, minor in Law and Society

Before Verukah Poirier aged out of foster care at 19, she was worried about supporting herself after becoming a legal adult. 

Verukah achieved a trades certificate in hairdressing while in high school, but dreamed of following a more academic path. She began her undergraduate studies at Langara College before arriving at UBC as a transfer student, where, as a youth from care, she didn’t have to pay tuition fees. Now in the fourth year of her degree, she has excelled in her classes, built a strong network of lifelong friends, and is proud to call UBC home.

 

Can you talk about your experiences growing up in care?

My family and I are Cree and Métis from Alberta and Saskatchewan, but I grew up in Williams Lake in British Columbia, away from my family’s reserve. My primary caretaker was my Kôhkom (grandmother), but I did spend a large portion of my childhood in foster care, in a group home or on a youth agreement away from my family and my hometown. I aged out of the child welfare system at the age of 19 in the city of Surrey.

 

Did you always aspire to go to university?

Absolutely. University was a huge dream of mine – one I didn’t know was achievable. I’ve always loved learning and felt most comfortable in a classroom. Growing up in care often brought a lot of instability, but no matter where I lived, I could always rely on school.

 

Verukah Poirier Former Youth in Care

 

Why did you choose to come to UBC, and what was your journey here?

I decided to come to UBC because I had heard about their Social Work program, and I thought it would be the perfect fit for me. At the time, UBC was one of the only universities in Vancouver that had its own personal tuition waiver program for youth in care, so it made the decision easier. However, because I left high school for a year to pursue a trades certificate, I was a little behind on the entrance requirements for UBC. So I started my post-secondary education at Langara College, and transferred to UBC in my third year through the UBC-Langara Aboriginal Transfer Partnership.

 

How did you choose your campus and program?

I visited UBC Vancouver once to meet with an enrolment services advisor, and I fell in love with the beauty of the campus. I knew instantly that this is where I wanted to be every day. I decided to major in First Nations and Indigenous studies because I thought it would make for a smooth transition into Social Work. However, I found my passion in Indigenous Law, and decided to minor in Law and Society rather than continue into Social Work. I’m planning on starting at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC in September next year.

 

I have definitely received more support than I could imagine at UBC.

 

How did you find the transition to UBC?

In one word: overwhelming. But with the support of many peers and faculty at UBC, I managed to overcome my anxiety and start to make sincere connections on campus. Personally, I find it difficult to make and maintain strong relationships due to my time in care. However, I can say that the community at UBC made it easy for me build a great network of lifetime friends. I can honestly say that I have found the family I always wanted at UBC.

 

Former Youth in Care Verukah Poirier

 

At UBC – as well as other post-secondary institutions in the province – individuals who have grown up in care don’t have to pay tuition fees. Did you take advantage of that?

Yes – these types of financial supports have allowed me to focus on my education. Programs such as UBC’s Post Care Tuition Waiver have taken a huge financial burden off of my shoulders. As a former youth in care, I didn’t have the opportunity to have money put away for my education. I feel that UBC as an institution has taken on that for us, and allowed us to worry less about money and focus more on reaching our goals.

 

Have you felt supported through your time at UBC, and in what ways does the school help you?

I have definitely received more support than I could imagine at UBC. With the help of my Enrolment Service Advisor, Chris, and my Aboriginal Academic Advisor, Karlene, I have managed to find social, academic, and financial support whenever I have needed it. They have always connected me to resources and supports whenever I have asked.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

My schedule revolves around my three-month-old daughter right now. So whenever she is ready to wake up, we get ready and head to campus. When we get there, we’ll go to class – which she usually sleeps through – and then I go to the Indigenous student lounge in the AMS Nest, where I let her visit with my friends while I socialize and get some homework done. In my free time, I’m either playing with my daughter, or hanging out with my friends on campus. We usually will bead, watch movies, or just talk about current events in the Indigenous lounge.

 

Verukah Poirier Former Youth in Care

 

Are you part of any clubs or extracurricular teams or groups?

I currently am the social media rep for the Indigenous Committee on campus. The Indigenous Committee is a student-run organization formed last year that is focused on bringing Indigenous presence on campus, as well as supporting Indigenous students, activities, and education at UBC.

 

UBC has really become the home I have always dreamed of.

 

Would you recommend that other individuals from care apply to UBC?

Definitely. UBC has been an integral part of my success after I aged out of care. UBC has given me the support and the tools I need to build a future for my daughter and I that I am proud of. University can be so daunting to youth in care because it is a four-year commitment. However, there is no other place that I would have rather spent these last few years than here. UBC has really become the home I have always dreamed of.

 

What do you wish that current youth in care knew about UBC?

I wish I would have known how much support was waiting for us when we started at UBC. Not only is there an abundance of financial help such as scholarships, bursaries, and tuition waivers, but there are also emotional supports and people here who understand what is means to be a youth in care. There are spaces for everyone on campus, and if you let it, UBC can be the place that you really succeed in, and the place you call home.

 

Latest Stories

Previous
Peter I standing on stairs at UBC Okanagan

Transitioning from Nigeria to the Okanagan

A Computer Science student in the Faculty of Arts, Peter gets to pursue what he loves at UBC Okanagan
student

Transitioning from Nigeria to the Okanagan

"Coming out of high school, I knew I absolutely loathed physics, wanted to avoid math at all costs, and loved solving complex problems with computer science. As such, finding out about the Computer Science major in the Bachelor of Arts at UBC was monumental for me because it meant that I could tailor my degree to prioritize my strengths and help me avoid my weaknesses." - Peter I., Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
Abby with her laptop on the UBC Okanagan campus

Embracing new opportunities

Management student Abby on discovering her passions at UBC Okanagan
student

Embracing new opportunities

"The ability to be in a smaller tight-knit community while having access to the resources of a larger intuition is a large reason as to why I chose the Okanagan campus. I love being a big fish in a small pond and getting to pursue different opportunities in a competitive yet supportive environment has allowed me to put myself out there, learn from my mistakes, and more importantly try again! I also love that I’m not just a number, my faculty and professors know me by name and we’re able to have meaningful conversations about their research, shared interests, and their journey of getting to where they are today." - Abby N., Bachelor of Management
Jamie walking outside the Longhouse on the Vancouver campus

Inspired to become a better person

How Jamie has connected her Kinesiology degree with her Indigeneity
student

Inspired to become a better person

"When I chose to study Kinesiology at UBC, I knew I wanted to find ways I could connect my degree with my Indigeneity. Throughout my degree I have been a member of multiple committees that promote equity and diversity for Indigenous peoples, taken courses directly related to Indigenous health & wellness, and have learned from numerous Indigenous professors and mentors in Kinesiology. All of these experiences have strengthened my desire to use my degree to connect with community and advocate for Indigenous representation in health and physical activity spaces." - Jamie C., Bachelor of Kinesiology
Danielle G UBC Okanagan Geography student

Pursuing a second degree in Human Geography

Danielle’s experiences as a Geography student UBC Okangan
student

Pursuing a second degree in Human Geography

"As someone who is interested in the humanities and social sciences, an Arts degree at UBC was perfect for me as it allowed me to broaden my knowledge through a variety of different classes, while gaining the necessary requirements for my career goals and graduate school." - Danielle G., Geography
Sophie H. on the Okanagan campus

Exploring cultural theory and social change

UBC Okanagan Arts student Sophie on the power of a Cultural Studies degree
student

Exploring cultural theory and social change

“It is one thing to identify what is wrong with this world, but it’s another to see how people are managing to live and finding joy within it. Because this is where the changes are happening.” - Sophie H., Cultural Studies

Choosing research in Nursing at UBC Okanagan

How Nursing student Dresya is tackling late detection of breast cancer to improve patient outcomes.
student

Choosing research in Nursing at UBC Okanagan

"The program pushes me to redefine what it means to be a 'nurse' daily. There has not been a day where I have not learned something new. Whether it is delving into the pathophysiology of a disease or acquiring a new clinical skill, the learning never stops. In my experience, the program at UBC Okanagan also understands the profound importance of people in nursing. It pushed me to look beyond mastering the scientific basis of nursing, and incorporate the patient's lived experiences into the care I provide." - Dresya D., BSN

Helping Indigenous communities through Nursing

How Ashley made the career change from marketing to nursing, with the aim of making a positive difference within the Indigenous community.
student

Helping Indigenous communities through Nursing

"Once I complete my schooling, my aim is to work closely within the Indigenous population. My passion lies in patient-centered care and ensuring cultural safety, and I'm eager to make a meaningful impact in these areas." - Ashley H., Bachelor of Science in Nursing

An artist's journey to building community

How UBC Okanagan Fine Arts student Ziv fosters community among UBC's international students as an International Peer
student

An artist's journey to building community

"As an International Peer, I aim to introduce the supportive and inclusive environment UBC has for new students to thrive in. I hope to foster a sense of community and belonging among the international student population, because building connections and relationships is crucial to a positive university experience." - Ziv W., Bachelor of Fine Arts
next