Leslie T. Sheldon
I was born in Kotzebue and raised in Ambler, and I moved here about 14 years ago. After I graduated high school in 1987, I used to be a substitute bilingual teacher in Ambler. I know Inupiaq. I speak it, I write it and I am teaching my kids the language because I don’t want them to lose it. I have five kids, two in Ambler and three here. I taught in Ambler for a year and a half, then I went to Red Dog [Mine] for seven years running heavy equipment. After that, I went back to Ambler and ran the power plant for two years. Then I came here to run this power plant. I have been working here for 11 years. I haven’t drawn unemployment for 20 something years.
I want to see more for the kids here. We only have the gym, and that’s going to close in the summer. We need a rec[reation] center. They used to have one, with video games and pool tables, and the kids weren’t getting in trouble back then. They were there all the time. Then, when they closed that, kids started getting into trouble, vandalism and breaking into places. Hopefully we can get a new one running and have a place for our youth to go to. Plus, there are too many adults living here with their parents. They are 30-40 and still living with their mom and dad. They need more [job] training to move out and get jobs. They just go “hey man, let mom and dad do it” and when they are gone, they won’t have any skills or know what to do. It’s sad, I see it. There’s jobs all right, some of them are just not qualified. They have to go to training.
I go to the school once in awhile and I talk to the kids. I tell them, “this is where I got my start from. I got my training from my teachers first. I got my job, and I never quit, for 20 something years. I am still employed.” I got my three kids in school and they are looking at me like “that’s my dad!,” and my son wants to be a heavy equipment operator now. – Leslie T. Sheldon is Inupiaq from Shungnak, Alaska.
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