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'It's never, ever too late': Vancouver man returns to school at 48 years old

A Vancouver man is proving it's never too late to pursue your dreams.

At 48 years old, Tattuuskulth "Tatt" Charlie will be the oldest first-year student on the UBC campus this fall, studying anthropology and art history on a full-ride scholarship.

"I've never felt so lucky when I got the acceptance letter. It was kind of surreal to me,” he said.

For Charlie, going to university was once a pipe dream as he was expelled from high school and never graduated.

Then last year, he hit the books and upgraded his high school marks at Native Education College, all in the hopes of one day becoming an Indigenous art curator.

What it took was mustering the courage to “show up at school and be like, 'All right, things were bad back then, but I don't think they'll be like that now,’” he said.

Charlie is from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in Tofino, and moved to Vancouver five years ago.

He said he always had a passion for Indigenous art, culture and history, but he never got around to pursuing a career in the field as he was busy raising his four kids, who are now grown.

Instead of attending school, he took the “experience route” and worked a number of different jobs, including at a catering company.

When the company shut down during the pandemic, he knew it was time for a career change.

“If you want to get ahead, if your resume doesn’t have a certain level of education, you’re kind of painting yourself into a corner, so definitely upgrading my education was first and foremost on my mind,” Charlie said.

“It was all just hard work,” he continued.

He plans on getting his master’s degree after completing his undergraduate studies, and later hopes to open up an Indigenous museum in Tofino.

"Right now, for our nation, I think it would be amazing to get not just one of our artifacts, but as many as we can, and house them properly and show them off to the world,” he said.

Charlie said he'll do whatever it takes to make his dreams come true.

"It's never, ever too late,” he said with a smile. Top Stories

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