Spare time is a rare luxury for Tamara Voudrach.
When she’s not working part-time as the executive producer for television at the Inuvialuit Communications Society (ICS) – where she was hired in April 2016 – or caring for her young son, she’s often reading textbooks or following lessons online from her Inuvik home.
“Time management is huge,” she says. “My mornings are dedicated to my studies… it’s just trying to find time to do homework or family stuff, or house stuff or work stuff… I know I have to be a mother 100 per cent, so I have to give that my all. It’s prioritizing and time management, those are the main challenges.”
Voudrach is in the second semester of the business management program at MacEwan University in Edmonton.
“I’ve always wanted a degree. It’s been a personal goal of mine,” she says, adding that she will be eligible to devote spend an additional year to attain a commerce degree after earning her business management diploma.
Voudrach doesn’t just want the knowledge for personal gain. She’s determined to launch her own venture and then mentor young people in videography.
“We have always expressed ourselves through dance, through storytelling. That’s who we are as people,” she says of the Inuvialuit. “Providing the opportunities to our youth, to be able to have creative outlets like that and express themselves, it’s what’s going to save our kids. We have a lot of youth that are going through a lot of social issues, mental health problems, bullying, everything. We don’t have an escape, especially in our smaller communities. Those communities don’t have access to larger programs and more options for expression and art.”
Although she has been promoting video production to youth through her job at ICS, she wants to become self-reliant and to engage youth in the communities at a deeper level.
It was a single course in high school that kindled Voudrach’s interest in television.
“It allowed me to be creative,” recalls the 2010 Samuel Hearne Secondary School graduate.
She initially veered toward journalism as a potential career. Her first shot at attending MacEwan didn’t go well, she admits. She dropped out, and it tormented her.
“When you go (to post-secondary school) when you’re not ready, the outcome isn’t going to be great. You’re setting yourself up to fail and feel discouraged,” she says, adding that she’s gradually come to terms with it. “It did take a while to get over that but it’s also like, you’ve just got to keep going. You’ve got to find places you can be successful in, areas of your life that you feel proud of. Once you build on those and you realize what your strengths are, you move forward on that.”
She later became aware of a two-year Indigenous film program offered at Capilano University in North Vancouver and she enrolled. She learned about screen writing, producing, directing, location management and props.
By combining that education with the business management know-how that she’s acquiring now, she’ll position herself to operate independently.
The ability to learn from home during the first year of the MacEwan University program has been helpful, she says. Local Internet service has come a long way over the years and she can work online without delays, she says.