80-year-old elder in Alberta back to school to get her diploma


Edna Rain doesn’t look like the 20-somethings at Norquest College in downtown Edmonton.

There are, maybe, a few more wrinkles – and certainly a lot more life experience.

At 80, Rain says her son convinced her to go back to school and get her high school diploma.

She started in January – but there was a problem right off the bat, she had never used a computer. Ever.

“I get help to log in and out,” she told APTN News. “I love English because he works with us in person. He teaches on a blackboard, like years ago.”

Rain is from Wabamun Lake in Treaty 6 Territory, an hour west of Edmonton.

She says she loves math in addition to English.

“Math makes your head spin” she laughs. “Isn’t that the way to learn – you have to figure out something to learn something.”

80-year-old-elder
Edna in one of the school’s computer labs. Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN>

Her math teacher, Wes Janke, says that once Edna understood computers, she began to do very well in class.

He says the other students look up to her.

“I think they are really inspired by her and she was in class almost every day, even when a lot of students chose to stay online,” he says.

“I think she is going to be a great role model around here.”

There is no time frame for Rain to finish school.

She is taking it at her pace and will be back again in the fall.

This time, she will also participate in the music group.

“I never started signing yet. I got a brand new guitar waiting for me to strum it. And I’m going to sing.”, she says.

“I’m not going to sing to be like Loretta Lynn, I’m going to sing for my community…If they allow me, I’m going to sing them songs.”

We don’t think anyone will stop her.

Video Journalist / Edmonton

Chris Stewart has been in the media for 20 years. He has worked at CBC, Global and CTV as a news camera operator and editor. Chris joined APTN in 2012 in the Saskatoon Bureau and moved to APTN Edmonton bureau in 2015 as a Videojournalist.