‘Poverty sucks the life from you’ says B.C. woman

Roderick Benns

Ashly Rigby, 36, had a dream of one day becoming a nurse. No one in her family had any post-secondary education and she was determined to be first, according to what she told herself in Grade 11. She didn’t expect to be pregnant during the Grade 12 school year, though, a fact that “derailed everything.”

The Vancouver, B.C. woman descended into depression and lived solely on income assistance for many years. Now, working part-time with dreams of school this fall, she hopes to reverse her fortune in the very near future.

Early Years

Ashly grew up in a working class environment on the rural edge of North Vancouver, the eldest of two kids. Her father was employed in the timber trade and her mother worked at a restaurant kitchen part time. While her parents were not well educated, they did provide Ashly with what she would call a “normal childhood,” even if they didn’t have as many material things as some families.

“I can’t really complain about the way I grew up,” she says. “They (her parents) did what they could and I owe them both a lot.”

Although her father died a few years ago of a heart attack, she credits her mother, especially, for being there for her when things went downhill after high school.

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