When I received the INSPIRE key last year, I was truly moved. There have been very few times in my life where I have openly cried, and receiving this key from sweet Kayl, with the meaning behind it, pierced the core of my being.
I’ve worked in the field of mental health, often with people at their lowest, and have had the privilege of teaching and mentoring hundreds of students, but never thought anything I did was inspirational. I simply wake up every day, say “Bring it on!” and wait with anticipation to see who will cross my path and how both of us might be changed through the time we spend together. This year I have thought long and hard about who I should pass this key to.
I first met LeeAnne in an introductory psychology class. She was a young single mother with steadfast determination. She had set sail on the waves of post-secondary possibilities, convinced she would improve life for herself and her children, and she has done just that!
Three things INSPIRE me about LeeAnne. The first is her priority of family. I have never observed someone so intentional with raising her children, whether that be in instilling her cultural values and practices, or having days set aside for sheer fun and excitement. Next is her awareness and practice of balance. She is one of those rare people who knows her limits and is not afraid to readjust her life to bring breath back into her world. Lastly, I recall so vividly watching LeeAnne reach out to those around her who were struggling. Whether it was academically or emotionally, she would lend a hand or a shoulder to lean on, never expecting anything in return. I so admire how LeeAnne has given her time to help others, and excelled in parenting, education, and self-care. She is an inspirational role model to her children, to her community, and, I believe, to our nation.
Miigwech, LeeAnne! In so many ways you have been my teacher.