Kadia’s journey in resilience began at only 7 years old. While Kadia had a very happy childhood and grew up close with her family, her world was altered by the devastating death of her Father in 2012. Her Dad faced a thyroid condition that predisposed him to major depressive episodes and tragically he passed by suicide. This loss shocked her family and was difficult for her to understand at such a young age. Kadia was grateful for the countless friends and family members who supported them in this time by providing them with home cooked meals and company. Kadia also began to attend therapy, utilizing art, journals and games to express her feelings in a way that made sense for a young child. All of these assisted in her ability to cope and validated her emotions in a meaningful way.
Although Kadia was particularly young to fully comprehend what happened to her Father, she began to develop a great deal of anxiety following her Father’s passing. In 2016, her already overwhelmed mother faced a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This diagnosis fuelled Kadia’s greatest fear of losing another parent. She continued to seek the assistance of a counselor to understand her feelings, and her Mother’s cancer was thankfully treated a year after the diagnosis.
While these tragic experiences occurred while Kadia was young, she was unable to grieve these losses and fears until a much older age. Music, particularly playing the acoustic guitar was one way in which she was able to cope with the loss of her Father, as the guitar and various music styles (ie. rock and jazz) were his passion.
Kadia’s experience also provided her with an empathic perspective on life, as well as passion for social issues such as gender inequalities and mental health. This prompted her to get involved in her school’s Social Justice League and to select school courses focusing on equity.
Her passion for helping others inspired Kadia to pursue a career as atherapist/counselor. She will be attending McMaster University in the fall for a general first year in Social Sciences. She hopes to major in either Social Psychology or Social Work. In assisting individuals as a registered therapist and providing them with an outlet for their emotions and working to end stigma around mental health, Kadia hopes to positively impact the well-being of people, as well as honour her Dad’s legacy.
In July 2021, Makath lost her boyfriend of two years, Ethan, to suicide. At the age of 17, she suffered the biggest loss of her life so far. Throughout this painful experience, she has learned resiliency, determination, and strength. After seeking help for her own mental health journey, Makath has persevered despite this devastating loss. She decided to start a volunteer organization promoting mental wellness in her community. Her volunteers connect regularly with seniors living in retirement homes who are isolated by Covid-19. Makath feels that nobody should have to face their problems alone, especially during this time of isolation and uncertainty.
After months of grieving and pain, Makath decided to both help herself and to let others help her. As well as dealing with this loss at such a young age, she also struggles with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Makath dpes not see suffering in silence as a viable option, and has been successful in seeking help. She now strives to help others in similar or unique situations. With the one year anniversary of Ethan’s passing, Makath is actively choosing to focus on happy memories instead of the painful ones, as well as focusing on her own resilience journey.
Makath will be studying Accounting at Brock University beginning in Fall 2022. Even with the adversity that she has faced over the past few years, she is committed to continuing with her education and to prepare herself for a successful career as an accountant. She plans on pursuing her Master’s in accounting after her undergraduate degree, to become a certified Chartered Professional Accountant. Makath is looking forward to following her self-exploration journey to a new city, in which she hopes to find new friends, job opportunities, and adventures.
On September 4th, 2012, Wesley’s father would take his life and Wesley’s own life changed forever. Wesley still remembers the gut-wrenching feeling upon hearing the news that his father had passed. “My father was the primary provider for our family, taking care of me, my sisters and my mother. When he passed it felt like the rug was pulled from under us. Suddenly our financial and emotional support was gone, and my mom had to work insane hours to make ends meet. “.
The circumstances of how it happened continue to haunt him.
Wesley says, “The loss of our father affected me and my sister significantly. The psychological damage would cause us both to fall into pits of depression and would aggravate my bipolar disorder which I struggle to deal with to this day.” Wesley now realizes the impact that his father’s passing has had on him and how this will continue to impact his future life. He wishes that no one else has to go through the issues that he has experienced with finances, family and painful loss.
Since his father’s passing, Wesley helped take care of his sisters while his mom worked. He also worked himself to take some of the financial burden off of his family. Wesley has found athletics and music to be helpful outlets in his resiliency journey.
He is determined to finish his arts degree from McGill University.
2020 was a year of loss for many individuals and this was no different for J’. On March 10, 2020, J’ lost her Gido (grandfather in Ukrainian) to a rare form of pneumonia. With the world going into lockdown not even a week later, the family was not able to have a funeral and J’ was left feeling confused and angry. This was the first time she had lost someone close to her and now she couldn’t go through the grief rituals that would normally support healing. With nothing but time to sit at home and stir about what had happened, J’ struggled to cope. There were no distractions. Her graduating year was stolen, with no dance show, no drama production, no cap and gown ceremony, not even classes to attend; on top of it all her Gido was gone too. As angry as J’ was, she worked to find peace with her Gido’s passing by remembering their goodbye in the hospital. She hung on to their last hug and his last words to her. She used these to give her strength.
J’ was trying to start fresh. It was her first year of university and although it was online, she wanted to make the best of it; but, six months and one week to the day of her Gido’s passing, on September 17, 2020, J’ suffered another shattering loss. J’s long-time childhood friend and another teen were killed by a drunk driver. To lose a close friend so suddenly and to find out through the resulting social media uproar was disconnecting. Living this felt like a bad TV show or some horrible nightmare she couldn’t wake up from. J’ described the whole experience as “the first adult experience I truly wasn’t ready for”.
The pandemic by and large delayed J’s grief experience. With two monumental losses coming one after the other while amid the global pandemic J’ struggled to find purpose for her life. J’ reminds herself daily, now two years later, that what she has experienced is not normal. Through a lot of reflection and resiliency, J’ learned to use her grief for the better. With determination, she found a way to use her inner strength to give back through her love of dance, coaching, and sports performance. Continuing to participate in activities like Ukrainian dance that she, her Gido and her friend loved kept J’ grounded as she navigated this new stage of life.
In the fall, J’ will continue to pursue a Bachelor of Kinesiology from the University of Alberta. She is excited for the opportunities to come as she follows a career in sports medicine. J’ knows that although her friend and Gido are no longer physically here, they will always be with her. Though losing these two individuals was more than difficult, the resiliency J’ has developed will help her find success in whatever she does.
J’ says to anyone with whom she shares her story, “I remember those who were kind to me and those who were not. I will remember those who understood and those who did not. When the time comes and someone in need comes to me asking for help, I will remember how I wanted to be treated.”