“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” - Maya Angelou
From an early age, my life has been marked by a strong distaste for injustice and oppression combined with a strong belief in people’s resilience and ability to overcome adversities. I truly believe that all people are equal, have a shared common humanity, and have a right to realize their full potential as individuals, families, and communities. Furthermore, it has always been important to me to use my voice to speak up and speak out when others are being treated unfairly. The more we speak up and speak out, the more resilient we become and the more we help to empower others in their journey.
I have a passion for helping to build the capacity of individuals, families, and communities so that people are able to step into their power, appreciate their worth and value, build greater resilience, cultivate greater hope, and achieve their full potential. My genuine enthusiasm and passion for helping others become more resilient inspires me to work on behalf of others each and every day. I truly believe that we are all hard-wired to bounce back when we fall or when we face adversities, and that we are all capable and resilient individuals who have the strength, power, and ability to continue life’s journey. We will need support, encouragement, and guidance to manage, overcome, and bounce back when times are tough and with this support, we can grow stronger and wiser in the process.
My mother and aunties worked in the helping professions as nurses and were also very strong positive role models and influences on me so I grew up learning about the importance of compassion, caring and having empathy for others from a very young age. The importance of helping people become more resilient is something I began to focus on strongly in high school, when I realized that helping people to become resilient was an important part of my life purpose.
As a youth, I also learned that because of the colour of my skin I would be treated differently and would have to work twice as hard to become successful. My experiences as a racialized female born in Canada have impacted my life profoundly in many ways, including my choice of education and the profession I decided to devote myself to. Due to the discrimination and social inequities that I have lived, experienced, and witnessed, I chose to become an anti-oppressive social worker in order to help make society more fair, just, and equitable for all. My early inherent desire to help others sparked a quest for social justice and led me to a career in social work as I realized that social justice is not just an individual project, but a societal one. For me, Social Work allows me to be a voice for those who are marginalized and an advocate for justice, equity, and fairness for all. Through advocacy, walls are broken down, barriers are removed, and people are empowered. Social work and the struggle for social justice is a true passion for me, plays an integral role in my life, and helps to define who I am.
We all need help and support to survive and thrive. It helps to have strong, trusted, experienced support, encouragement, and guidance when facing life difficulties and struggling to overcome challenges. My passion for helping people to build greater resilience, for advocating for others, for using my voice to speak up and speak out, and for supporting people on their journey of becoming stronger and more confident led me to found BRI Counselling. My hope in founding BRI Counselling is to create a useful resource for the community that will allow more people to access high-quality, positive, strength-based, culturally inclusive and responsible counselling and support to achieve their goals and contribute to their families and communities.
Resilience is a powerful force in my life that has helped me to manage and overcome many challenges and adversities that I have faced. Resilience has also helped me to advocate strongly for others and to support others in their efforts to become stronger through the process of overcoming the challenges they face.
Resilience shows up in every area of my life, including my home life, my work, and my community. In many ways, resilience is a deep and important part of who I am. It is a guiding force, value, and spirit in my life and being. Resilience is like an inner voice of hope that guides and encourages me to keep striving for myself and for others.
Deep down, I believe that everyone can rise to face and overcome adversities with the proper support. While none of us are perfect, we must believe in ourselves enough to keep trying, to keep overcoming, to keep showing up for each other, and to keep working to make the world better for ourselves, our families, and our communities. This work is not easy but it is necessary. Resilience helps me to continue growing, becoming wiser, and using my experience, strength, and wisdom to help others.
For me, resilience is also connected to appreciating and drawing strength from my ancestors. We are literally standing on the shoulders of our ancestors, who endured, overcame, and sacrificed so much for us to be here. In many ways, resilience is embedded in our roots and our DNA. Our ancestors struggled, survived, and overcame so that we could have better opportunities for education, for careers, for success, and for justice. While there is much work still to be done, we can draw strength and resilience from those who went before us. The power of resilience is both individual and collective.
Individually, I am a resilient black woman living in a predominantly white society. My parents are from the Island of Trinidad and Tobago, thus they are considered immigrants who came to Canada. Unlike my parents, I am a Canadian because I was born in Canada. Although this may be true, I am still considered a ‘minority’ by the dominant culture. I am often asked, “Are you from Jamaica?” It is automatically assumed that because of the colour of my skin, I am not Canadian. Therefore, I will never truly be viewed as a Canadian first, but as a second class citizen (minority). Moreover, my ‘blackness’ is associated with negative labels in the ‘white’ western dominant society and so I have had to use resilience, creativity, and courage to re-write and retell my own story in ways that highlight my strengths, pride in my heritage, and my accomplishments rather than adopt labels, values, and stereotypes created by others.
My mother and aunt are single parents and I have observed their strength in raising four children. This strength was pivotal for survival at a very young age. Like my mother and aunt, I continue to build on my strengths as a strong, resilient black woman and to use my strength to help others. I am also personally charged to resist oppression on behalf of myself and others. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I practice what I preach as I too have fought hard and have endured many adversities, but each time I have fallen I was able to bounce back, keep working to achieve my goals, and continue helping others.
Although I continue to endure systemic oppression in various areas of my life, I also continue to rise strong, to show up, to stand up for myself and others, to take up space, and to ensure that I am seen, heard and valued. In addition to truly believing in the transformative power of resilience, I am also an example of the transformative power of resilience as I continue to rise strong in the face of life’s challenges. For me, this marathon of hope, resilience, empowerment, and equity continues through my choice to found and develop BRI Counselling.