'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
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to resign, his office said Thursday, ending an unprecedented political crisis over his future that has paralyzed Britain's government.
Boris Johnson was due to resign as Britain's prime minister on Thursday, bringing an end to a turbulent two and half years in office and triggering a search for a new leader.
Several vaccine manufacturers are racing to develop formulas that take into account the more infectious Omicron variant now driving cases, while policymakers are laying the groundwork for another large-scale vaccine blitz.
A well-known Ukrainian paramedic who was held prisoner by Russian and separatist forces for three months after being captured in the southeastern city of Mariupol has accused her guards of psychological and physical torture during her time in captivity.
Video has emerged showing a worker dangling in the air above a Toronto construction site after accidently getting entangled in a tagline attached to a crane.
The federal government has no intention of dropping the controversial ArriveCan app because it gives the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) key health information about travellers who test positive for COVID-19 through testing at airports and land borders, senior government sources tell CTV News.
Patrick Brown is alleging political corruption played a role in his disqualification from the Conservative Party of Canada's leadership race, a move that came following allegations that his campaign violated election financing rules.
Jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner returns to a Russian court Thursday amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her release nearly five months after she was arrested on drug charges.
Despite being disqualified by the Conservative Party of Canada from becoming its next leader, ousted candidate Patrick Brown's name will still appear on the ballot.
The city’s executive committee discussed possible upgrades for Regina’s recreation facilities and event venues during a meeting Wednesday.
'I feel like I have everything to lose': Riders' Tevin Jones looks to maintain place on active roster
Wide Receiver Tevin Jones got his first regular season Canadian Football League (CFL) start in week four and will look to continue the momentum against Ottawa.
SaskEnergy has gained ownership of its Regina head office building following a decade long legal battle.
A crash involving a fire hydrant was the first in a chain of events that led to a chaotic scene in a Saskatoon intersection.
Starting Thursday, riders looking to take Access Transit to get to their destinations will notice a shift in service over the next three weeks.
Two Ukrainian refugees, a brother and sister, are settling into their new home in Saskatoon.
Christ the King Church in Sudbury is looking for your scrap vehicle.
Whether you’re looking for a change of pace, a breath of fresh air, or a glimpse into nature, northern Ontario has an outdoor oasis waiting to be discovered.
The chair of the Station Mall Merchants Association says news of the mall's sale to a southern Ontario holding company brings to a close years of uncertainty regarding the future of the property.
Wade Stene, who admitted to kidnapping and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old Edmonton girl, was sentenced to 15.5 years behind bars Wednesday afternoon.
Emergency crews were called to a Mill Woods school on Wednesday after a security guard reportedly experienced irritation on their hands after finding a white powder.
Blackfalds RCMP were called to the scene of a serious hit and run collision Wednesday evening.
'I cannot get any rest': Residents complain of sleepless nights after alleged nightclub opens up under condo
Residents living in Toronto’s west end say they have been left utterly exhausted after an alleged nightclub opened up at the base of their condominium.
Ontario has likely entered a new wave of the pandemic driven by the more infectious BA.5 subvariant, the province’s science advisory table says.
A mother from Nova Scotia is speaking out about her recent travel experience through Toronto Pearson Airport after a WestJet flight delay left her and her daughters sleeping on a nursing room floor.
Calgary drivers might be asking why the price of gasoline is more expensive in their energy rich province where oil is refined and extracted than in Ontario, but one retail expert claims to have the answer.
Police are investigating after receiving reports of shots fired late Wednesday afternoon in Bankview.
Blackfalds RCMP were called to the scene of a serious hit and run collision Wednesday evening.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M. | With another COVID climb, Quebec health minister calls news conference for Thursday morning
With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise in Quebec, public health officials have called a news conference for Thursday morning.
'Not a time when Quebec can afford to lose young doctors,' province's opposition leader says of ER exodus
The leader of Quebec's Liberal Party paused her vacation briefly on Wednesday to react to the news that two young emergency room doctors have quit their jobs in their hometown of Montreal to work in Toronto.
A 16-year-old was shot and injured in Repentigny, north of Montreal, on Wednesday night.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Bluesfest is back today after two years of COVID-19 cancellations
Fans will be packing into the grounds at LeBreton Flats tonight for the first in-person Bluesfest since 2019.
An Ottawa senior citizen says he lost his life savings after investing with a real estate development firm that has been charged with fraud.
Ottawa police are on the scene of a shooting that injured one person in the city's west end.
A person has been taken to hospital with serious injuries following a shooting in Halifax Wednesday night.
Halifax Regional Police and fire crews are investigating after receiving reports of a missing swimmer in Dartmouth.
The ex-boyfriend of Cassidy Bernard has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter and a consecutive three years for child abandonment in connection with the young mother's death.
Police said a stabbing was reported Wednesday night near the University of Waterloo.
Once again due to staff shortages, the emergency departments at both Listowel and Wingham hospitals will be closed overal several upcoming dates.
Break-ins targeting restaurants, salons, dress shops and cannabis stores have been reported in Kitchener, Waterloo and Woolwich.
Someone in British Columbia could be sitting on a lottery ticket worth a whopping $15 million – but there's only a few weeks left to claim the jackpot.
For the second consecutive day, emergency resolutions related to a conflict between the Assembly of First Nations National Chief and the organization's executive council threw the agenda into chaos.
The large logs that have lined the water’s edge at many Vancouver beaches have been a favourite lounging spot for sun worshipers for over 50 years.
Investigators say a man was lying in the roadway when he was struck and killed by a vehicle near Courtenay, B.C., on Wednesday.
The driver of a logging truck was airlifted to hospital in Victoria after he was pinned inside the vehicle following a rollover crash on Wednesday morning.
The number of Vancouver Island marmots in the wild increased this week, with 10 of the critically endangered rodents released onto a Mount Washington ski run.