By Joan Black
with permission from
Sixteen-year-old Alika LaFontaine seems to have it all together for his age: a close and loving family, a solid record of academic achievement, a career goal, community and peer support for just about everything he does, and to top it all off, he is recognized this year as the Youth recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award.
You might think the first-year, pre-med student from Regina would be a little full of himself, with people often telling him how good he is. But nothing could be further from the truth. He is self-effacing and gives his family and professors most of the credit for his motivation and the success he has gained so far.
Della Anaquod, dean of students at Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, nominated LaFontaine, whom she describes as "fantastic . . . very mature, very giving, very considerate." She attributes his well-rounded personality and multiple gifts in large part to "great parents," and the dedication they put into his upbringing and home schooling.
LaFontaine currently is earning marks in the high 80s in the Department of Science at SIFC where chemistry is his best subject. Following two years of pre-med, he plans to attend the University of Saskatchewan for four years to earn his MD, then become a cardiac surgeon.
LaFontaine says his family is the reason he tries hard.
"Everything that they do affects me positively . . . makes you want to give something back," he explained.
Life wasn't always quite so rosy. Around Grade 4, the public school system labeled him "developmentally delayed," because his speech was slurred. A strange label for someone who could already read when he started school.
"It was really a hearing problem," LaFontaine said, "not even permanent."
It was a couple of years before school authorities figured that out, and in the meantime he received speech therapy and was put in a class for students with difficulties.
A lack of confidence in public education was the result, so LaFontaine was home schooled from Grades 8 to 10. Except for science, he completed Grades 11 and 12 entirely by correspondence.
The hard work paid off -- LaFontaine graduated with an 88 per cent average, earning several "community service-related" scholarships.
LaFontaine adds that his father has taught him a holistic approach to achieving a physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual balance. He says this kind of training "gives you an edge" that can be applied, in his case, to the rigors of medical school.
He adds there are five main rules for life he learned from his father:
That is, you must feel commited to any activity you undertake and make it personal.
That is the standard LaFontaine has set for himself.
National Aboriginal Achievement Awards
with permission from
' Alika is a Saskatchewan Metis. His goal is to become a cardiologist with an added specialty in cancer care and he is currently attending his first year of pre-med studies at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College. 'Alika has been awarded with such honours as the 1998 Canada Youth Award, 1998 Rotary Club Service Award, and the 1998 Sherwood Cooperative Service Award. He is a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well, taking home honours in the Canadian national championships and the Pan-American International Championships. Along with all of this, 'Alika plays the piano and is very active volunteering in his community. All of this at the age of 16.
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