A new career can offer a fresh start and a future, but for Laureena Laffin, the decision to go back to school offered even more.
Laffin says her life was shattered four years ago when she lost her eldest son.
“I was 18 when I got pregnant with Dillon. I had him for half of my life because he was 18 when he passed away,” says Laffin. “Dillon was outgoing. He was bigger than life and now there are a lot of people who are lost without him.”
Dillon Jewett was lured to a quarry in Mount Uniacke, N.S. where he was shot in the head and left to die in October 2010.
“My worst nightmare and the worst television program I could have ever seen on TV couldn’t have prepared me for this,” says Laffin.
Three people were convicted in Dillon’s murder.
“Not a day goes by that we don’t hurt. We were best friends. I’m still lost without him.”
Laffin admits school was difficult for her son and that he dropped out in Grade 8. But she says he dreamed of becoming an underwater welder one day.
“So I made a deal with him that if he could get through high school, I would pay his tuition for the welding course and he enrolled back in high school, but he just didn’t make it.”
After his death, Laffin knew she had to make Dillon’s dream a reality, so she quit her job as a home-support worker and enrolled in a welding program at the Nova Scotia Community College.
“That was pretty much the furthest from my imagination,” she laughs when asked if she ever pictured herself as a welder.
School has kept Laffin’s mind occupied and hands busy and she says learning the trade has also taught her a lesson in survival.
Through welding, she has found peace, strengthened the bond between her and her son, and has started to put the pieces of her own life back together.
“The steps and the hurdles, each one was not just a test or an exam, it was a personal hurdle as well, just to be able to put that foot forward and get up every day and not lay in bed every day because I had a few months off and that’s what I did.”
“Very positive attitude, worked extremely hard, never complains,” says Laffin’s second-year welding instructor Steve Stewart.
After two years, Laffin has earned her welding diploma. She says she knows she wasn’t alone while she walked across the stage that day.
“I had a little guardian angel pushing me across there and keeping me from tipping. I think I got a pat on the back that day for fulfilling somebody else’s dream.”