Roy Powell

I quit school when I was in grade six at the age of sixteen. Because of a hearing problem, some words sound different to me than to other people. I found it difficult to learn even back then, but with more one on one teaching I feel I could have done much better.

I went fishing with three other partners after leaving school. We fished cod from a trap-boat. From there I went to St. John's to do carpenter work. After that I went to work at the Island Seafood Fish Plant, where I stayed for twenty-one years.

In the beginnings there were times when I used to work from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight. About three years before the Cod Moratorium was announced, I found my hours were starting to be less and less. Gradually, people weren't getting hardly any hours, the cost of living was going up and the household bills began to pile up. The TAGS cheque that eventually came helped with the monthly bills. It also helped ease some of the stress the whole community was feeling.

But, at the end of 1998 when the TAGS is finished, I don't know what the next step will be. Unless the government can come up with something else, there will be a lot of people on welfare. I don't see the plant re-opening because it is only a small one.

The TAGS councillors suggested that people on TAGS should go back to school and retrain. I felt under pressure to do so. I know of people who went back to school and quit, but didn't lose their TAGS benefits. Although I found it extremely difficult, I stuck it out.

At the age of forty-two I enrolled in the ABE class at the Island Training Center in Twillingate. Taking the first step was very scary. I found my two instructors, David King and Randy Gidge to be considerate of my problem and very helpful.

One day in class we listened to a tape that told the story about a Captain on a cruise ship. This Captain could go anywhere in the world on a ship and read any chart, but he couldn't write so he went back to school to learn. That story made a good impression on me.

The ABE class started out with approximately sixteen students. Halfway through some people dropped out. I have my own opinion as to why that happened. After some of the test marks came back, a guy from Gander, or somewhere, came out to Twillingate. He told me that I would never see Level Two. I know this guy said the same thing to other students.

It had a really negative impact on the class. People became discouraged and after that some people quit. I almost quit too, but I wouldn't let it get to me. Six or seven people passed Level One with me.

I went back to school to get Level Two but found it too difficult because of my reading skills. I am now working on that by having someone tutor me. I want to get my grade twelve diploma more than anything.

The learning center is closed now and there are no ABE classes offered anywhere in my area. But I think it should be offered again because there are a lot of people out there who want to go back to school. People who are more able to learn than I am. I do a lot of sketching in my spare time. If the fish plant doesn't open again, I don't know what I'll do for employment.


  1. How many hours, was Roy getting when he first worked at the fish plant?
  2. How old was Roy when he went back to school for the second time?

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