Kendal's Blog

Journey of Resilience: From Adversity to Inspiration

My Kookum was more than just a grandmother to me; she was a teacher, a mentor, and a guiding light.




When I reflect on my journey, I’m reminded of the twists and turns that have shaped my path and defined who I am today. It all began in grade six when my mom, a true leader in her own right, made a decision that would alter the course of our lives forever.

We packed our belongings into garbage bags and boxes, loading them into the back of a pickup truck. As a child, I watched with curiosity, unsure of what was happening. Little did I know that this moment marked the beginning of a journey filled with challenges and triumphs.

We ended up in Prince Albert, a northern city in Saskatchewan, seeking refuge in a women’s shelter. It was a temporary home, but it provided us with safety and a sense of stability during uncertain times. Eventually, my grandmother, my Kookum, welcomed us into her home in Sweetgrass First Nation. It was there, on top of a hill overlooking the land, that I learned some of the most valuable lessons of my life.

My Kookum was more than just a grandmother to me; she was a teacher, a mentor, and a guiding light. Through her words and actions, she imparted wisdom that would stay with me forever. She taught me about the power of forgiveness, the importance of empathy, and the impact of our words on others.

One lesson that particularly resonated with me was the idea that the words we speak have the power to uplift and inspire, or to hurt and discourage. My Kookum would often remind me to choose my words carefully, for I never knew how they might affect someone else. It was a lesson that would shape the way I interacted with others and the message I would later share as a motivational speaker.

As I navigated through life, I encountered challenges and obstacles that tested my resilience. But with each setback, I drew strength from the teachings of my Kookum and the support of those around me. I learned the importance of unity and collaboration, breaking down barriers and building bridges between communities.

Today, as I stand before audiences sharing my story, I am reminded of the journey that brought me here. It’s a journey marked by perseverance, compassion, and a relentless determination to create positive change in the world. Through my words and actions, I strive to inspire others to overcome their own obstacles and pursue their dreams.

In my journey of resilience, I have discovered the true power of the human spirit—the ability to rise above adversity and emerge stronger than ever before. And as I continue on this path, I am filled with gratitude for the lessons learned, the challenges overcome, and the endless possibilities that lie ahead.

In my story, we had no place to go.

Eventually, my grandmother, my Kookum, as we would say in Cree, she was the one to take us into her home in Sweetgrass First Nation, not far from Cut Knife, Saskatchewan.

She lived on top of this hill, and I remember the first day we put all of our belongings in the back of her living room and we put all the stuff there and she said, “Nah, this is where you’re going to be sleeping today.”

So it was just the floor all made our bed there, and that was our room, living room, and we stayed there for several months with her.

I didn’t know she was going to be a teacher to me.

I didn’t realize she was going to take me to cultural events, being part of ceremony.

I was totally unaware at that time in my life.

I didn’t realize she was going to teach me some of the teachings I’m going to share with you about the power of working together, not holding onto grudges, forgiving each other, doing your best to leave a room in a positive way.

And I used to ask, as a child, I’d be like, “Kookum, how come you always say that?”

And then finally after a few times, she finally just stopped what she was doing and she went up to me and she said, “You watch how you talk to people because you don’t know if that’s going to be the last time you see that person.

You don’t want to carry any guilt.”

The words that we use can literally save people’s lives and encourage them to see another day, encourage them to go after a dream, encourage them to work hard in our municipalities, to keep growing the corporate ladders in our organizations.

The power of words, and it has to come from here.

You can’t just say it from here, you have to feel those words.

So when she would say this to me, I started to think about that.

I started to think about that.

And then there was one teaching about forgiveness, and I didn’t realize it would be a superpower for a lot of leaders in the future, I see them use this.

Because there’ll be people that will come into your life that will say mean stuff to you, that will treat you in a very dishonest way.

That will do you wrong and hope you do wrong, but we can learn from them.

She used to say, “If people are being mean to you, they’re doing things to purposely throw you off your path.

Distance yourself from them, and if anything, pray for them.”

She would say, “Forgive them.”

Because they don’t know any better.

They weren’t told things and now they’re lost and they see you because it triggers their own realization that they haven’t lived up to their expectations to where they can be in their life.

That’s the part of being a leader.

You’re going to trigger people sometimes because of how far you’re going.

And how far you’re going is proof because you’ve built your foundation.

That’s a blessing right there.

Being able to work through your challenges, your issues, the things behind the scene, the work before the work, all the stuff behind the scenes, it gets shown in physical form later.

I want to share with you a story here before we wrap up today and we depart.

I wanted to come up here today, ladies and gentlemen, to bring some words of encouragement, to bring real life stories that will help all of us here today to try to move forward in a good way.

I really believe that where we want to go requires us to actively invest in up here in the form of could be books, it could be listening to speakers, it could be listening to audio programs, it could be going to conferences, listening to people in your community and continually being a knowledge seeker.

Then applying what you’ve learned into your day-to-day life.

I came into entrepreneurship because I got inspired from a young age.

A lot of the helping hands that came as a kid came from people who were non-Indigenous that saw me as a human being, saw me as a kid with potential.

I live side by side with a town.

Right in that town.

A lot of farmers around the town were three different reserves.

Right beside my other side of the reserve is a little city.

Around the city, six different reserves.

And I got to see from a young age a divide, this imaginary wall that was constructed in people’s minds.

You people over here, you people over here, we don’t talk to each other.

Leave us alone.

I used to see this as a kid.

Here I am now in the future.

I’m trying to break that wall down.

I’m trying to build a bridge up here, Trying to build a bridge so we can work together, but it takes individual collective effort to do that.

It starts at your children’s sports practices.

There’s going to be people from different backgrounds, maybe Indigenous backgrounds, maybe from different countries.

Have you taken the time to go and talk to them?

Because when we walk into a room, here’s how we feel.

It’s very uncomfortable for us walking into a grocery store, the dentist’s office, clinic, hospital, our favorite store, Walmart for some reason.

It can get uncomfortable for us, but can you imagine if we all became friends and how much more work we can get done?

It starts at those little things like a convenience store, the children that are part of your children’s life where they go to school and so on.

That’s where it’s starts.

But in order for those opportunities to be taken advantage of, we have to be able to leave a legacy for the children that we serve, our grandkids and so on.

We have to make sure we’re giving them the tools to be able to go and network, to talk to each other without any judgment, and to learn and pave the way for a brighter future as we leave those doors here today.

My goal is that I hope that my kids, if I’m blessed to have grandkids, that the future of work, our municipalities as we’re building businesses together, building nonprofits together, living in unison, in harmony.

But in order for us to get there, we have to understand each other as friends, as allies.


Thank you.


hiy hiy


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