“You usually start from square one. I started from a minus,” says Amy, a Blackfoot Siksika woman.
Amy grew up in Fort McMurray. The legacy of intergeneration trauma that her family faced in the residential school system impacted her own experiences and as a result, she didn’t finish high school.
Despite the challenges of becoming a single parent at the age of 20, and later of enduring a challenging relationship, Amy has always worked hard. She has completed different training throughout her life and has held a series of jobs, in oil and gas, as a landscaper, in the health industry and at 911 emergency. She is also an artist; her home is filled with her creations.
“I started with no education,” she says, “but I’ve had so many jobs over the last 18 years that I’ve accumulated a lot of skills. I’ve always created some money, but I’ve always struggled to save money and to understand healthy habits with money.”
Amy drove past Momentum’s building many times on her way to the nearby Alberta Works office. One day, feeling that she was finally ready to get some control over her finances, she dropped in and eventually enrolled in the Fair Gains program.
Fair Gains encourages participants save money while they attend a series of workshops to build knowledge and skills to manage their money. The savings that participants build over the twelve-month program are then matched at a ratio of 3-1.
“I couldn’t save before,” she says, “I wasn’t financially healthy. [Now,] I religiously put money into my savings, and I have money, even though I’m not working.”
Earlier this year, Amy used her matched savings to enroll in a driving course to get her Class 3 driver’s license. She was four days away from completing the course before the COVID pandemic cause most business to close, but she has a job lined up to drive a truck, a job she feels good about.
“I think being financially healthy is a choice,” says Amy. “Speaking to my aboriginal brothers and sisters, at some point we need to take control of our futures and our finances, to be less reliant on government assistance. I’ve made other choices so that I’m able to make money. At some point it becomes a choice about your financial stability.”
As Amy looks forward, she is optimistic saying, “For me, coming from no money to being able to take care of myself has given me some peace of mind.”
Are you ready to start saving? Learn more about our matched savings programs.