'Mom, you gotta carry on': 58-year-old Winnipegger inspired to graduate high school by late son
Vivian Ketchum is counting down the days until June 30.
The 58-year-old is set to receive her high school diploma at a graduation ceremony at the University of Winnipeg next month. It is a moment that is decades in the making.
“I’m looking forward to crossing that stage,” she said.
Ketchum enrolled at the Winnipeg Adult Education Centre last fall. An assessment placed her in Grade 11 and less than a year later, she is set to graduate.
While joyful, her graduation will also be bittersweet. Ketchum was inspired to return to school by her son Tyler. He died in 2011 at 24 years old after a devastating brain tumour diagnosis.
Vivian Ketchum's son Tyler died in 2011 after a devastating brain tumour diagnosis. She credits him as her inspiration to go back to school. (Image Source: Vivian Ketchum)
In the days leading up to Tyler’s death, he had a clear message for his mother.
“He said, ‘Mom, I don't want you to grieve too long. I'll be alright. Mom, you gotta carry on.’ And that was what I was doing when I went to apply,” she said.
Getting back into the classroom was intimidating at first, as Ketchum’s history with school was an unpleasant one.
Ketchum, who is of Ojibway heritage, grew up in Kenora, Ont. She experienced racism and found school to be a challenge. She dropped out in the ninth grade to help support her family.
She had Tyler when she was 21, and the family moved to Winnipeg in the late ‘90s to be close to family.
Stable, meaningful employment was hard to find without a high school diploma, she recalled. Ketchum, who was a single mother, found strenuous warehouse jobs in trying conditions and sales work that left her with little money to take home at the end of the day.
Every job was worth it, she said, to support her son.
“I remember taking all those small jobs to make sure he had tutors, that he had clothes, school pictures - everything I did to make sure he graduated,” she said, “I thought, ‘hey, if I can do that for him, I can do that for myself.’”
As it turned out, Ketchum’s return to school was a rewarding and surprising experience. As a kid, she hated math. This time around, she excelled.
“I was getting 90s,” she said.
“I think it was because (of) how I was being taught in math and everything else before. The classes (in adult education) are smaller. There’s more one-on-one. The teachers are patient with you.”
Not even a brutal bout with COVID-19 in January could shake her devotion to her school work.
“I was sitting in the emergency room working on my math assignment,” she said.
“I thought that was going to be the end of my school year, but then with remote learning, I was able to keep up.”
Ketchum said she has already received some job offers, and aspires to work as a librarian in the future.
Moreover, her diploma gives her important confidence to excel in the next chapter of her life and to continue to make her son proud.
“All my life I've heard words, directly or indirectly, that I'm a dumb Indian. Now, I can hold my head up.”
Winnipeg Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre joined the final leg of a march led by a Canadian soldier charged for speaking out against COVID-19 vaccine requirements that has sparked promises -- and fears -- of a new wave of protests in the capital.
Ottawa protest organizer Tamara Lich will spend at least five more nights in custody in Ottawa after she was arrested in Alberta for allegedly breaching bail conditions.
Two of Canada's largest airlines announced steps this week to cope with delays, cancellations and service issues. Head to CTVNews.ca to read about the changes announced by Air Canada and WestJet.
The Conservative Party of Canada says approximately 675,000 members will be eligible to vote in this year's leadership race.
Researchers examining the threat of emerging COVID-19 strains predict Omicron BA.5 will account for nearly 70 per cent of cases in much of the country by Canada Day.
The Supreme Court of Canada says the expanded rules to further prevent a sexual assault complainant's past from being used against them in a trial are 'constitutional in their entirety.'
As stocks continue to slump, it can be easy to let your emotions take over if you've got money invested in the market. But experts agree that there's no need to panic if you're invested in the right type of portfolio with the right level of risk.
More than a month after Canada reported a shortage of baby formula for allergic infants, Health Canada says supplies will continue to be limited during the summer even with new shipments on the horizon.
Animal rescue groups are criticizing a new policy by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that will ban the import of dogs from more than 100 countries.
Summer is officially here as the first long weekend of the season approaches. The last week has been filled with active summer weather and heading into the weekend the story isn’t much different.
Live performance kicks off at noon on the main stage in Wascana Park with opening ceremonies, followed by a variety of entertainment:
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have 12 players on either the one or six game injured lists and 10 roster players listed as ‘out’ or ‘questionable’ leading into Saturday’s week four rematch versus Montreal.
Saskatchewan's social services minister announced plans to cut funding to Saskatoon's permanent downtown shelter during a talk radio appearance.
A video captured by a Saskatchewan man shows a kayaker paddling away from a developing tornado.
It’s been 25 years since Saskatchewan’s last residential school closed, but some are still healing.
With Health Canada's permission, street drugs can now be consumed inside Safe Health Site Timmins.
Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services is helping seniors protect themselves against fire. The Assisting Seniors Awareness Program or Project ASAP is focussed on those 65 or older, and still living independently.
While the main suspect still hasn’t been caught, two people have been charged in connection with a murder that took place June 24 on Manitoulin Island.
An often-vandalized memorial featuring the face of former MP Frank Oliver will no longer be displayed in front of Edmonton's Fairmont Hotel Macdonald.
A damning new report from Alberta's auditor general finds government ministries failed to include understandable, relevant and comparable data on COVID-19 in year-end reporting.
A man is facing multiple charges in connection with a rash of arsons in the Alberta Avenue area, and police are calling him a key suspect in a complex investigation.
Ontario drivers could soon see the end of "unfair" insurance policies with premiums based on postal codes, Premier Doug Ford said Thursday.
Ontario gas prices are about to take a huge drop and one expert says it will be 'well worth waiting' if drivers can hold off on filling up.
If you are staying in the city for the Canada Day long weekend, there are several road closures to keep in mind.
A southeast Calgary bank was evacuated Thursday afternoon, to allow hazardous materials crews to investigate a strange incident.
Emergency crews are on the scene of a fatal crash that took place late Thursday afternoon.
Thousands of Calgarians are ready to ring in Canada’s 155th birthday as festivities are set to be held across the city, but not everyone is calling this a ‘celebration.’
Consumer rights advocates are demanding Air Canada provide compensation to many of the hundreds of thousands of passengers whose summer flights it cancelled.
Organizers of a Montreal Caribbean festival are looking for clarity from police as to why a large group of officers interrupted their pre-festival barbecue on Saint-Jean Baptiste Day.
Two people have been reported dead and one person is in critical condition after a fire broke out in a home in Longueuil on Montreal's South Shore.
Police officers in cruisers, on foot patrol and on bicycles are patrolling the Parliamentary Precinct, the ByWard Market and the so-called "motor vehicle control zone", as the city prepares for Canada's 155th birthday celebrations and possible protests.
Canadian Forces veteran James Topp marched through Ottawa on Thursday on the final leg of his cross-country march, and was joined by Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre for part of the walk.
Mayor Jim Watson also faced questions about a private WhatsApp chat with senior staff and members of his office, and the fact there were no city committee meetings for councillors to ask questions and receive information during the trial-running period.
The spouse of the gunman in the Nova Scotia mass shooting will testify mid-July before a public inquiry, but she won't face direct questions from lawyers representing victims' families.
As Claire Mahaney-Lion dropped her son off at school this morning, she questioned the reasons behind scheduling a school day that would last fewer than two hours.
Saint John is having its dog day. The host city of the 2022 Memorial Cup is celebrating after the Saint John Sea Dogs bested the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3 in front of a capacity crowd during Wednesday's championship game at TD Station.
The eviction deadline for people living at an encampment at Victoria and Weber Streets in Kitchener has come and gone, but residents of the property say they’re not moving.
A miscommunication involving a COVID-19 booster shot has left a Kitchener woman concerned for her 86-year-old mother.
The news comes just two days after the City launched a naming contest for the young bird, which it said was the first offspring of Victoria Park swans, Otis and Ophelia.
After dog died on Vancouver-bound flight, owner says airline offered compensation based on 'cargo weight'
Nearly two years after her beloved dog died on a flight to B.C., a Metro Vancouver woman says she’s still waiting for justice for her pet.
A B.C. father who printed off a blog post and submitted it to court in a bid to prevent his children's mother from vaccinating them against COVID-19 has lost the dispute, in part because the judge found his evidence inadmissible.
The number of people with COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals remained at 273 on Thursday, still slightly above the lowest total seen in 2022 so far.
Saanich police will hold another update on a deadly shooting that took place on Tuesday afternoon, leaving two suspects dead and six officers with gunshot wounds.
Mounties on Vancouver Island are warning of a recent spike in catalytic converter thefts, with more than 50 thefts of the devices reported to police in the Oceanside, B.C., area this year.
BC Ferries is cancelling several sailings between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland ahead of the Canada Day long weekend.