Mike Pereira

Manager of the David Johnston Research + Technology Park at the University of Waterloo, and former Director of Marketing and Community Development at the Accelerator Centre, Mike Pereira has focused his work on building bridges, particularly between Waterloo’s growing tech sector and the broader community.

His drive to strengthen community also extends to his roles as Vice President of the Board for the Association of University Research Parks and Chair of the Board for the Canadian Centre for Cyber Risk Management, as well as through his involvement with Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

Mike was first introduced to Women’s Crisis Services about 10 years ago when his wife Kim, a Nurse Practitioner at the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre, began doing community outreach at Anselma House. Over the years, Mike has continued to support the Women’s Crisis Services in various ways of his own, from organizing charity golf tournaments to pitching on behalf of the organization at Communitech’s charity pitch competition, “Pitch In!

Through his involvement with Women’s Crisis Services, Mike has learned how domestic violence is impacting Waterloo Region.

Starting the Conversation

“It’s one of those problems that I think doesn’t get talked about enough. It tends to fly under the radar, especially in terms of things like volunteerism, giving, and people’s general attention to the topic,” said Mike.

Mike believes one reason domestic violence does not get the attention it warrants is because people don’t understand how prevalent it is.

“I think it’s way too easy for it to be overlooked because people really are not aware that it’s regularly happening in their own community,” he said. “But not knowing about it does not mean it’s not happening.”

For those who do recognize the prevalence of domestic violence it can feel overwhelming, says Mike.

“I think it’s way too easy for it to be overlooked because people really are not aware that it’s regularly happening in their own community,”

Mike said.

“I think a lot of people really have no sense of how to deal with it and how to combat it. They feel like, if you can’t see a problem then how do you deal with the problem? And even if you can see it, do you know what to do about it?” he said. “For example, I have some really wonderful friends that I’ve known for 20 to 30 years and I really don’t know how I would respond if one of their wives, who I am now also close with, told me they were being abused,” he said.

“It would be so challenging to really wrap your head around. How would you respond to that situation? I think that makes people feel really powerless and it makes it really hard for them because they just don’t want to think about it,” he said.

Mike believes we need to start by accepting that there is no simple solution.

“I think one of the big things is that people need to get more comfortable with the fact that it’s okay not to figure out everything right away. If this were an easy problem to solve, we would have solved it by now but it’s a very complicated problem. It’s okay that you don’t know how to fix it, but it’s not okay to ignore it,” he said.

He encourages people to break the issue down to a personal level.

Small Steps to Solve a Big Problem

“Try to figure out what little things you can do to fix the problem in your own world, without having to take on the institutional level or societal level problem. To say ‘I’m going to be responsible for the things that are within my grasp’,” he said.

As a leader within Waterloo Region’s tech sector, Mike shared several examples of small ways he has taken action to speak out and raise awareness about domestic violence. He focused a week of the Research Park’s newsletter on events surrounding International Women’s Day.

“…let’s be honest, a lot of it is perpetrated by men. And to me that means there’s a role for men to play in putting a stop to it.”

Mike said.

“Our newsletter is not huge but we’ve got almost four hundred subscribers and they’re all people in tech who maybe don’t even know how big the problem really is, so for all I know that was their first exposure to it,” he said.

The newsletter included an article indicating local women’s organizations that employees could consider learning more about and even donating to. He says making a donation is one simple way you can make a difference.

Another step is to start raising awareness within your ‘world’, Mike says.

“There is also abuse in the workplace. Something I can do from a tech standpoint, and one of the things I want to do in my role as managing a business community, is bringing that community side to it,” he said. “To have talks about good management and good leadership, and making people feel safe coming to work.”

Your ‘world’ can also extend to the online word. Mike suggests people can use their social media platforms to speak out, share relevant news articles, and show their support.

This is something Mike does regularly. For example, when CBC KW published a story about Waterloo Region being the least safe place for women, Mike shared the article on Twitter and stated that we have a lot of work to do in our community. He then proceeded to offer some ideas, particularly to other men, about where this work might start.

“At the end of the day, women are already doing this work, they don’t need me to say anything about what the work looks like,” he said. “So I’m going to make it focused on what I think most of the men in the community can be doing.”

A Role for Men to Play

“A lot of sexual violence and domestic violence is perpetrated by men. That’s not to say it’s universally that way, but let’s be honest, a lot of it is perpetrated by men. And to me that means there’s a role for men to play in putting a stop to it.”

Men can start by becoming more mindful, he explained.

“I need to acknowledge that my experience is not universal. I feel safe right now but maybe the person in front of me doesn’t,” said Mike.

“I need to acknowledge that my experience is not universal. I feel safe right now but maybe the person in front of me doesn’t,”

said Mike.

He shared a story of how he learned this lesson, from a seemingly small moment that had a significant impact on him. One evening he was walking home from a conference and really scared a woman who had been walking six feet in front of him when he cleared his throat. Although completely unintentional, her strong, defensive reaction made him realize he probably should not have been following behind as close that late in the evening.

“It’s one of those things where it’s like, how easy is it to just be more mindful of what’s going on around you and to understand that maybe not everybody feels your sense of security and safety in the community?” he said. “So how can you help by creating space and being mindful of how other people might be experiencing the environment that you are in?”

Mike suggests people can use their power, privilege, and position in society to find feasible ways to help create change.

“What are those things that you can do that are not seemingly overwhelming steps to make your contribution to change the status quo? So that it becomes less big, hard, and overwhelming of a societal problem we will never get to,’ said Mike. “All of those things change as you start to change your own outlook and attitudes. If enough people take those little steps they become much bigger steps at a much different level.”

Mike sees that offering his voice presents some challenges.

“It’s an interesting thing that I think a lot about: between being a voice and amplifying other voices. There is part of it where you are like, “Why my voice? Shouldn’t it be someone else?” But then you sit back and go, well then I’m not talking about it and that’s just as bad. Sometimes you also have to lend your voice to that chorus,” he said.

Being a Good Neighbour

He believes that as community members, we all have a role to play in being “good neighbours.”

“All of us have this sense that we know our neighbours, we are close with them and we connect. Yet statistically it is reasonable to assume that someone in your neighbourhood, someone that you know, is being abused and you just don’t know about it,” said Mike.

Mike points out that we often rely on our neighbours for things like shoveling each other’s driveways, or getting together for potluck dinners, but asks us to consider whether our neighbours would feel like they could come to us for help if they were in an abusive relationship?

“It’s much better if we have open conversations so people have that sense that they can confide in you about what’s happening,”

he said.

“If it were happening, are you a person that would help others feel comfortable? Would you listen to them, believe them, help them, and keep them safe? If you are not seeing yourself as that person, how do you feel about that and what can you do to change that?” he challenged.

Would you be understanding and withhold judgement? Would you consider the complexity of their situation?

“There are a lot of barriers to leaving. I think we often undermine how significant that is,” Mike said. “They are not just walking away from this singular toxic influence, its potentially walking away from their whole family who may not understand, their community, their kids, giving up a home you built.”

For Mike, being more open and understanding is key. He suggests that we need to create a more open dialogue and let those around us know that the subject is not off-limits.

“It’s much better if we have open conversations so people have that sense that they can confide in you about what’s happening,” he said. “Having more conversations helps people to see you as a person in the community that they can count on.”

Melissa Durrell

Coming from a career as an award-winning broadcast journalist, Melissa Durrell continues to use her passion for communication and her unique storytelling skills to help strengthen her community.

President of Durrell Communications, Vice Chair of the Uptown Business Improvement Area (BIA), Director of Media and Public Relations for Women’s March Global, board member of REEP Green Solutions, and member of the Waterloo Park Committee, Melissa is particularly focused on helping elevate women within their respective fields, celebrating the success of fellow leaders, and helping others find their voice.

She helps facilitate this in several ways. One way is hosting Women’s March Canada’s weekly podcast which offers Canadian women a platform to share how they are making a difference in their community.

Helping Elevate Women

“Amazing women who are doing incredible things in our country deserve to be heard. They have great stories to tell,” said Melissa.

With this in mind, Melissa helped launch the Zonta Film Festival eight years ago, showcasing inspiring, powerful, and thought-provoking films by women filmmakers. With diverse subject matters ranging from sexual assault and domestic violence to athletes to Indigenous rights, the common thread between the films is that they are all stories told through a female lens.

Proceeds from the festival go to local charities and non-profit organizations such as Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

“It’s important that the money we raise stays locally. We are bringing in films talking about the issues affecting women worldwide, but it’s really important for people to know what they can do locally,” Melissa said

If you have one minute you can donate to a local women’s organization, if you have 10 minutes you can write a letter to an MP, she suggested.

“I know way too many women – way too many women – who have endured financial, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. It’s part of what drives me everyday and is why I want to be involved,” she said.

“It was a neighbour growing up in Saskatoon or it was stories of people that I was covering when I was a journalist,” Melissa explained. “Throughout my life I have seen the effects that it has not only on the women, but on their family members, on their work-life, and on their community life.”

“I think the most important thing we can do is listen and support the women in our lives that are going through this,”

said Melissa.

Recognizing Financial Abuse

Melissa has known family members, close friends, and even colleagues who have struggled. One of her closest friends married a very wealthy man who was emotionally and financially abusive.

“He never hit her but she couldn’t spend a penny without him,” she said. “If we’d go for coffee she would have to bring receipts home and sign it with my name on it, he wasn’t just tracking money; he was tracking her.”

The situation worsened when her friend moved away with her husband, isolating her from her friends and family. “Her health broke down, of course, which is the next sign. She had so much emotional abuse that her body was reacting,” Melissa said. “She ended up having a full breakdown.”

“They were millionaires. She never had a black eye. He never touched her once, but there is no doubt in my mind that she was one hundred percent abused her entire relationship,” she said.

Melissa emphasized how essential it is for people to understand the many aspects of domestic violence and the different ways it can occur.

“Once you know them, you either know that you are experiencing it, or that someone close to you is, then you have the tools to make better informed decisions,” she said. “Physical abuse is the one that we see but all the other aspects are also breaking women down. To me, that’s the tragedy of it all because not everyone is going to be walking around with the physical signs that you can spot.”

“I think the most important thing we can do is listen and support the women in our lives that are going through this,” said Melissa.

Addressing Violence in Our Community

Thinking of her own community, she expressed how unhappy she felt about the statistics published within the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report, which ranked Waterloo Region as the least safe place for women to live out of Canada’s largest 26 metropolitan areas.

“I think that’s one of the big problems we have right now, that we are not actually admitting what a massive problem we have,” she said. “People just need to open their eyes and acknowledge that it’s happening and then we can start to move forward.”

“We need to use our voices to speak out for people who may be afraid to speak out, or who can’t speak out.”

“We see people wearing their specific hats. In my case, I was a reporter on CTV, I was the politician in Uptown Waterloo, Mom or wife, or I am the president of a company. You know, we play these public roles and that’s what we’re expected to be. But we all have our own personal stories to tell,” Melissa said. “Community isn’t about being put in one role, we all have so many different sides.”

These sides extend beyond our work lives into our personal and family lives.

“I have a daughter, she is 12 years old. Everything I do, when I put my mother hat on, is trying to give her the right tools so she can be a strong confident woman, but sadly, no matter what I do, the statistics are not in her favour,” said Melissa.

This is why it’s critical that we do something to make a change. Melissa believes that community leaders have a unique role to play.

“We need to use our voices to speak out for people who may be afraid to speak out, or who can’t speak out. That’s part of the job of being a leader,” she said. “It’s about community. We need to bring it back to that space. It’s about protecting our friends, our family, and our coworkers. It’s about being good listeners. It’s about admiring the survivors who have the courage to come out and talk about it.”

“If we are actually going to make an impact and change what is happening, we need to think of everyone as our neighbour, someone that you can actually help.”

Being a Good Neighbour

It’s also about recognizing and respecting a woman’s journey, she says.

“It’s not a quick fix. It is years of therapy. It’s breaking up families in some situations. There is so much more involved. I think that if you truly want to be respectful to your neighbour and people going through this, listen to their story. Their story is not problem-solution; it doesn’t fall into those easy elements. It’s a long road that often involves culture, tradition, families, neighbourhoods, friends, schooling, all sorts of different dimensions,” she said.

When it comes down to it, we all have a part to play in improving our society.

“Whether it is your neighbour, if it’s a co-worker, if it’s the person that you workout with, whomever it is, take that first step to start to talk about it,” Melissa said.

If someone does open up to you, she says the role of the neighbour is not to judge. “Just listen and be open to it. That will get them on the path, hopefully, to survival,” she said.

Melissa understands that this is a hard issue to talk about, but she sees the strength that comes with taking a moment to show your support.

“I see the power of us all banding together. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you make, what your education is, but that we are all neighbours. If we are actually going to make an impact and change what is happening, we need to think of everyone as our neighbour, someone that you can actually help,” she said.

Bryan Larkin

With 29 years of policing experience, Bryan Larkin, Chief of Police for the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS), has been a pillar in our community for nearly three decades.

Committed to strengthening community, he has a longstanding relationship with Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, dating back to the 1990s when he was a frontline officer fielding family and domestic violence calls.

Over the years, he has elicited the expertise of Women’s Crisis Services staff for guidance and advice, in addition to directly supporting various campaigns. He has also been heavily involved in partnering with the organization to build memorandums of understanding so that both agencies can work more collaboratively and seamlessly.

Domestic Violence in Waterloo Region

“I think back to the original Anselma House and how things have changed for the better,” he said. “But the one piece that’s concerning is that the need has grown.”

The WRPS has a Domestic Violence Unit dedicated to working on cases of domestic violence. Comprised of 25 specially trained officers and case managers, the unit can attest to the high prevalence of domestic abuse in our region.
“On average, we have about 6,000 calls a year – that’s 16 calls a day,” he said. “So when you think about the impact on society, some people may think ‘Is this really happening in Waterloo Region?’ Yes, this is the reality.”

Chief Larkin emphasized that these are solely the reported calls for service of a highly underreported crime.

“On average, we have about 6,000 calls a year – that’s 16 calls a day,”
So when you think about the impact on society, some people may think, ‘Is this really happening in Waterloo Region?
Yes, this is the reality.”

“The Domestic Violence Unit is going on twelve years old. We have had varied approaches to family and domestic violence,” he said. “Twelve years ago we launched a significantly different approach.”

At this time, the WRPS joined forces with the Family Violence Project, which was launched as a new, one-stop hub model that has been held as an exemplar not only in Ontario, but also nationally. By joining with several organizations in connection with the Family Violence Project, he explained they can provide better service, better victim advocacy, and better victim support to individuals who require significant change.

Chief Larkin said he is proud of the work that has been accomplished so far, but more work is still required.

“We can also start to move the pendulum towards upstream prevention, greater awareness, and really a long-term domestic and family violence prevention plan which reduces victimization,” he said.

“It’s not about raising fear. It’s not about creating chaos in the community.
It’s about bringing attention to a significant issue that has ripple impacts,” Bryan said.

Changing the Narrative

Chief Larkin thinks building awareness through projects like #SheIsYourNeighbour is an important piece when it comes to prevention.

“It has been some time regionally since we have had a significant awareness campaign and prevention campaign to bring attention to family violence and domestic violence,” he said. “If you think about it, it is something that is challenging to talk about. Not a lot of families, not a lot of people, not a lot of coworkers want to talk about it.”

But as a community leader and as the Chief of Police, he emphasized that this is a problem that needs more attention. With 6,000 domestic violence calls each year, he said domestic and family violence is one of the police service’s highest priorities and one of its highest demands on services.

“We have 1,200 members and domestic violence impacts the people we work with every single day,” he said. “So I think it’s important to educate and raise awareness that this is an issue and a challenge in Waterloo Region.”

Chief Larkin explained that awareness is important because people see issues and challenges differently when they have increased knowledge. When given the necessary information, it allows them to make more educated and balanced decisions.

“It’s not about raising fear. It’s not about creating chaos in the community. It’s about bringing attention to a significant issue that has ripple impacts,” he said.

A Moment of Pause

Chief Larkin encourages community members to pause for a moment and recognize that domestic violence touches all of us.

“Regardless of your socioeconomic status, I think we all know somebody that is in a relationship that might be abusive in many different ways. It does not necessarily have to be physical. It could emotional, sexual, financial control, social control. Those are all realities and it doesn’t matter your level of affluence in the community,” said Chief Larkin.

“Through my career and in my personal life, I have known people who have family that have had challenges and domestic issues,” he said. “I think it is important for us to act. It is important to do the right thing.”

There is probably someone in your life that has been a victim, he said. Chief Larkin challenges us to ask ourselves – How did we help? Did we take action? Were we supportive? 

“Hopefully, the #SheIsYourNeighbour project creates an opportunity for everybody to just press pause and reflect and think about their own personal networks. Then actually hit play again and locate what I am going to do and how I’m going to do it,” he said.

He stressed the importance of making people more comfortable with the conversation.

“It’s not an easy conversation, but it’s one that educators and families should be having with young people around healthy relationships, consent-based relationships, appropriate relationships,” he said.

The Role of Police

Chief Larkin knows there is stigma, misunderstanding, and other obstacles that keeps domestic violence an underreported crime and police call. He points to commonly held beliefs of, “I don’t want to call the police because they are really busy and I’m not sure whether this is worth their time,” and, “Well, if I phone the police, they are going to get in trouble”.

“Often we will go to investigate and if nothing criminal has happened it does also allow us to make referrals to many different social agencies,” he explained. “Often, we have some different opportunities to make change.”

According to Chief Larkin, the role of police continues to evolve and it has changed locally in the last 30 years.

“Through my career and in my personal life, I have known people who have family that have had challenges and domestic issues,” he said.
“I think it is important for us to act. It is important to do the right thing.”

“Policing is really about providing a social service, we just have different tools and different options. One of them is the judicial system and our province does have different, stringent adequacy standards around family violence and domestic based investigations, and it ought to,” he said. “There should be little wiggle room in those things.”

When you look at the homicide rate locally, provincially, and nationally, a large portion and a disproportionate portion, continues to be domestic and family-based violence.

“I think it is important for us to recognize these are potentially preventable homicides, preventable deaths,” he said.

Being a Good Neighbour

To Chief Larkin, a strong community has engaged citizens. Citizens who ask questions, who advocate for social agencies that provide support, who hold their systems leaders accountable, and who rise up as caring and empathetic leaders. If we can get all the systems leaders coming together, he says we can look at enhanced prevention programs and working to effectively save lives.

“Those are the key pieces of why #SheIsYourNeighbour is extremely important. It’s about raising awareness, but it’s also a call to action,” he said. “It’s to get all of us actually taking a little piece of responsibility and doing things differently.”

Chief Larkin has witnessed how our communities are changing, intensifying and growing. With that, our concept of a traditional neighbourhood must also adapt.

“It goes beyond the neighbour. It goes beyond the geographical factors. Take it into your workplace. Take it into your social circles. It may be at a social class, art class, gymnastics, or the hockey rink where you learn of these types of things. The concept of being a good neighbour, in my view, extends beyond street address and apartment numbers and really goes into everybody’s life,” he said.

“But also internally – with our coworkers and friends – recognizing signs and symptoms, and recognizing behaviours, and asking the right questions. These are challenging first conversations that all of us need to have,” he said. “Otherwise, the 6,000 service calls a year will continue, and likely continue to grow. We shouldn’t accept that as the norm in society. We should actively be acting to counter-balance that and to ensure gender violence isn’t part of society.”

Brenda Halloran

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Brenda Halloran, probably best known for her eight-year reign as the mayor of Waterloo.

A leader in the community, Brenda is currently active on many boards including Supportive Housing of Waterloo, the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region, oneROOF Youth Services, Focus for Ethnic Women, Startup Canada, and GroYourBiz. Not to mention, she runs a personal consulting business, coaches, emcees events, is regularly recruited as a keynote speaker, and is the proud grandmother of two.

Brenda is also a survivor of domestic violence.

“It happens at all levels of society. I’m telling you, I know women who were very well off and it happened to them. We have to get rid of that stereotype,” she said.

She added that domestic violence isn’t always visible.

It happens at all levels of society. I’m telling you, I know women who were very well off and it happened to them. We have to get rid of that stereotype.

Brenda said.

“My neighbours had no idea because I didn’t have any physical sign of it. My family had no idea. I was that woman. I was her. I was ‘she’ that nobody knew this was happening to. No one would dream it because I presented so fine to the world,” Brenda said.

An Abusive Marriage

For Brenda, what started out as a fun and exciting relationship, gradually became something else.

“I had to get out but I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

There were consistent and growing concerns around finances – paychecks would be “lost”, people would call their house demanding the money he supposedly owed them, he started stealing from her purse, and he once even drained her bank account.

At this point, they were married with a young daughter. Feeling stuck, she didn’t know how to handle the situation.

“There was always something wriggling in the back of my brain that this isn’t right, this isn’t normal. But I was always too proud to tell anybody,” Brenda explained. “It was a gradual escalation of his unstableness, his anger, his toxicity, and verbal abuse…. At the time I didn’t realize what was going on but it was really psychological. I wasn’t prepared for it, I had no experience in this type of relationship.”

Not able to hold a steady job, her husband started coming home intoxicated late at night, or not coming home at all.

“This was constant financial and psychological abuse because I never knew if we had enough money to pay the mortgage. I didn’t know if we had enough money to buy food… I had no idea what to do and I was ashamed to have to tell my family and friends, so I hid it from everybody until he started not coming home on weekends,” she said. “When I would confront him, he was verbally abusive and starting ransacking the house.”

Deciding to Leave

One morning her husband began yelling and swearing at her after she denied his request for more money. She had no more money to give. Their two-and-a-half year old daughter was present at the time. Frightened, her daughter asked why Daddy was yelling.

“That is when I looked at her and thought, what am I doing? I have to deal with this,” Brenda explained.

When she confronted him about his behaviour, things escalated and he demanded that she get out or he would come after her.

She called her parents and explained everything to them, to which she received a chilling, “Thank God, honey, we have so much to tell you,” from her mother. This was a sentiment many of her friends and loved ones shared once she began to open up to them about the situation. Her loved ones revealed that her ex-husband had been asking them for money behind her back for years.

“In a way I knew it wasn’t right but I was too afraid to leave and I felt ashamed. I think it was the shame of having to admit I’m scared,” said Brenda. “On the outside people thought everything was okay but my family knew something wasn’t right.”

The next weekend when he returned from another weekend disappearance, her family was there to support her. After kicking him out, she changed the locks and left all his belongings on the front porch. Especially heartbreaking was realizing that it wasn’t her or their daughter that he seemed most troubled about losing, but instead, a set of golf clubs.

I was taking my control back.

said Brenda.
Taking control of my life with the help available and the services in this community.

Process of Rebuilding and Giving Back

Ending the relationship did not immediately fix all Brenda’s problems. Weighed down by a mortgage that she could not manage on her own, and receiving no child support, she made the difficult decision to sell her home at a loss and move in with her parents.

Despite these hardships, she was overwhelmed with the support she was receiving.

“I was taking my control back,” said Brenda. “Taking control of my life with the help available and the services in this community. Getting back on track was another impactful event that was very very difficult but it sets you on the path of what you decide to do with your life and where you are going to take it.”

“Once you have gone through something as traumatic as marital abuse or domestic violence – there are all different levels – you have become a person of strength and determination. You didn’t settle to stay there, you made the change. If you made that change and got your life back and your joy back, you can do anything,” she said.

Brenda decided to become a volunteer with the Child and Youth Program at Anselma House. She had experience working with children through her role as a registered nurse and training in family and child therapy.

Coming home from the first volunteer training session was especially emotional for her.

“I think I cried for about four hours because I realized I was in an abusive marriage – I had just never named it. I didn’t know it was abusive. That was something I can still really remember. I thought, well, I’m strong this shouldn’t have happened to me, and it did,” she said.

Being a Good Neighbour

In the years following, Brenda continued to give back to the community in various ways.

“Everything kind of happened at once to help me in my most desperate time. So I feel that it is my obligation to help back and to give back continually, to forever give back to anybody, especially women in tough positions.”

In 2006, Brenda went on to become the mayor of Waterloo, a position she held for eight years. She hopes that speaking about her journey will inspire other women who are experiencing domestic violence.

“You can be in a bad situation where you feel hopeless and still attain the dream you had set forward for yourself. When I was in that situation, I had no idea I was one day going to be in politics and become the mayor. I had no idea,” she said.

For Brenda, the #SheIsYourNeighbour project is about sparking conversation and action.

“It’s almost like unlocking a door for the community to have difficult discussions or just pay more attention to each other,” she said. “We have to be caretakers of each other.”

She explained that a good caretaker is an open listener who suspends judgement and instead aims to understand. She said being honest and asking open-ended questions like “Can you tell me more?” and “What can I do?” is key.

“In my world I do have people coming to me with some significant issues because they don’t know where to go or what to do. I try to direct them the best I can,” she said. “To me, that is one of the most incredible honours – that somebody in a really tough time trusts me to help them.”

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