It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time again.
Time for us to introduce you to another remarkable and amazing BOOSH and add another chapter to our Be YOUnique Project.
If you aren’t familiar with our Be YOUnique Project, let us tell you … it’s pretty awesome.
So we’re a little bias … but it really is amazing.
We sit down with phenomenal women once a month to hear their story. They share their strengths and weaknesses with us. Talk to us about struggles they have faced. Hardships they’ve endured. Growth they’ve experienced. Lessons they have learned.
If you’re interested in reading the past posts, there will be a link at the bottom where you can continue to get inspired by more amazing women.
But right now, we are honored to introduce you to Alanna Fawn Syliboy.
Alanna is 33 years old and originally from Sipekne-katik in Shubenacadie, but now lives in Enfield, Nova Scotia. She works for The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq as a DENR Community Liaison Officer. She has 2 beautiful kids. 10 year old Mia and 5 year old Dominique, that she has been raising on her own. So you can imagine … she’s a busy women. Which is why we felt very lucky that she was able to find some time to sit down with us. While she was in, we talked a lot. About a lot of things. Some happy. And some tragic. As she shared the events of her life … it was hard to hear some of it … but it was beautiful at the same time. To see the strength in Alanna while she shared her story … it was so powerful and moving.
We asked Alanna some questions and are so happy to share them with you now.
DID YOU FACE ANY STRUGGLES ON THE PATH TO THE “YOU” THAT YOU ARE NOW?
“Yes. I got bullied in Junior High and High School a lot. From a lot of girls that would gang up on me … they would make fun of my eyebrows … because, they were a lot bushier hahaha … but they would just make fun of me because I never really fit in with my own community members and I never real fit in with the outsiders. I was always sort of stuck in the middle.
Being a first nations person, it was hard to be accepted by my own people, and be accepted by others. I got bullied a lot by a lot of people because of my looks. It was a big struggle for me. I had to find my own confidence. But my parents always had my back.
So yeah … that was High School. Then when I was 21, I had my first child … unfortunately he passed away when he was five. But I did get five years with him … and I think he came into my life as a blessing. He made me stronger as a person. He gave me patience and kindness … and everything that I am today is because of what he did for me in those five years. Because he kept me grounded. And he also made my bond with my father a lot bigger and a lot stronger. My dad was right there for me. I was a single mom. First baby. So my dad was my rock, and he still is to this day.
So … not only that … I was in multiple abusive relationships. Where it was bad. Pretty bad. The year that my son passed away, the following year my sister passed away and then the following year after that my mother passed away. And the year my mother passed away, I was pregnant with my youngest son. I have three kids … but one is deceased, so I have two. The year my mom passed away, I was pregnant with my son Dominique. He’s five now, and will be six in October. So, my mom never got to meet him … and that’s something that I struggle with. And he was also born at 30 weeks, so he was 3 lbs and 9 oz, so I almost lost him. I went into early labor because of the stress of my mothers passing. But he pulled through, and now he is a very, very active 5 year old.
He makes my world light up. Him and his sister. My daughter is 10, her name is Mia, and she is the most beautiful girl ever. That you could ever imagine. She makes me so proud to be a mom. She tells me every day how much she loves me and how proud she is of me. She supports me in every way she can … sometimes she thinks I work too much hahahaha. But you know … I am a single mom, and I’ve been doing it now for awhile by myself. But the bond they have is amazing. I couldn’t ask for better children. People compliment me and say ‘you’re doing an amazing job’, but I’m just doing what I have to do. I’m giving everything. I work. I take care of a house and 2 children all by myself. You know?But I have my dad there as support.
For a long time I struggled to find employment because I had moved away. I had to move away because of the situation I was in. So where I moved to, it was very hard for me to get a job because I was a first nations person. I just felt very isolated … and I did feel racism there. I still currently live there and it’s a little bit of a struggle. So I tried and I tried and I tried … and I couldn’t get a job. And actually my friend had asked if I was looking, and I said yeah. He said there was an opening at his office, and he said that I should apply. And I was like ‘ok, yeah!’, and so I did. I dropped my resume off … 3 times because they lost it hahahaha.
So … I was the only one who applied, which was really amazing. So I didn’t have to go for an interview and I got the job. It was only a 6 month contract, and I was a little worried, because I didn’t know what I was going to do at the end of the 6 months. So I worked my butt off. I did what was needed to be done by me, plus more. I kind of created more work for myself. Which lead me to be hired on as a Project Assistant in the Climate Change department for the Mi’kmaq Conservation Group. So I had a year contract with them and so at the end of the year, because it’s a non-profit, I was like ‘what am I going to do?’. But my boss said ‘No, we’re going to hire you on again. Here’s your contract.’ So I was the Community Coordinator for another year.
So I did my 2 years … and actually this April is a big milestone for me because I am now a permanent employee. So, it was pretty good. My boss was like ‘please don’t cry this time!’ hahaha because the first time she offered me the job I cried. I was just like ‘thank you so much’, and she said ‘but you did this. You put yourself out there, and you did what you needed to do and I noticed how much of a hard worker you are.’ and I cried and gave her the biggest hug. So in April she was like ‘please don’t cry!’ haha I said ‘I wont, but can I at least hug you?!’. It was a big thing in my life … and now I don’t have to worry.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK 10 YEARS ND SAY SOMETHING TO YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Because I get a lot of compliments on how kind I am. How selfless I am. How I help other people and how good of a person I am, and how amazing of a person I am. Sometimes I don’t feed into it … because I’m just being who I am. I just do what I have to do.
And everything that I went through in my life, up to today, has lead me to where I am. So I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t say anything or do anything to change it … because it wouldn’t make me who I am today
… and I’m pretty proud of who I am.”
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH ALL LITTLE GIRLS WERE TAUGHT ABOUT THEMSELVES?
“This is the one I struggle with, because I do have a little girl. But I tell her every day that she is beautiful and she’s smart.
I think they should just be themselves and embrace who they are. Everyone is beautiful and unique in their own way. Just embrace it.”
WHO IS OR WAS YOUR BIGGEST FEMALE INFLUENCE?
“That’s a hard one. That’s a huge one.
And I’m going to have to probably say my mother.
And my ancestors.
My Grandparents, and my Grandparents parents … because with out them and without their struggle … I wouldn’t be here. Without their perseverance … I wouldn’t be here. I have to look up to them because they made my parents, and my parents made me.
And my mom too, when she met my father she had 2 kids and my dad accepted her and loved her. The bond that my parents had was beautiful. She also went back to school when she was 50. She got her grade 12. That was a really big moment for us, because I was there on her graduation day with my daughter. It was a good day.
Then after that she went to the Akerley Campus at the NSCC and got her Baking Degree. She was already a good cook anyway, but she went and she got her Pastry and Bakery Arts Degree at the NSCC.
She always put everyone else first, then herself. So I really admired her for that.”
FINALLY, WHAT DOES BEING PART OF OUR ‘Be YOUnique’ PROJECT MEAN TO YOU?
“It means a lot to me.
It means that you guys see potential in me. See something in me that I don’t see, maybe. It means that I can be a role model for others. It gives me confidence. It gives me something to tell my dad about so he can be proud of me. It makes me feel like … there’s hope for people. I’m just a small town person … this … this is … to me this is a big thing.
This entire time I have been thinking about my daughter. What I would I want my daughter to hear, what I would want my daughter to say, because I want her to grow up with the confidence I have now. To get it now, while she’s at a young age. I think it would be very helpful.
And I just think, being a part of this entire thing is a blessing. I’m very very blessed, and very very privileged to be a part of this.
I’m nervous, but I’m excited because this is another thing that I can be proud of.