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I am honoured today to share five stories from our amazing community of finding strength through connection. Our goal is to incite courage in others, raise the voices that aren’t being heard, and most importantly, spread the message that you are not alone. 

Thank you for reminding others that we’re #BraverTogether and for being the light at the end of the tunnel for someone else.

Caitlin Bangsund

My bravest chapter was watching my daughter fight to conquer cancer and then fight to live. At the height of it, we brought her brothers to the hospital to say ‘goodbye’ and we did the same. She was flown from Calgary to Edmonton on a plane that only fit her, the life-support machinery, and the support personnel. We drove in the dark not knowing if she would make the flight. 

Sometimes we are braver because of the way people show up for us, but sometimes we are braver because we have to show up for others. My daughter needed me beside her. My family needed me to be brave each time I had to leave them to go back to the hospital (sometimes for weeks on end, and often unexpectedly). 

We are braver together. We persevere when we are covered by support, but also when we press on for the sake of the ones we love. I learned that to “press on and conquer” doesn’t have to be all on me. And, it doesn’t have to be big *brave* steps. The little steps are brave too. They add up. They matter. 

I know that I couldn’t have walked my bravest chapter without help and I know that I never really did. I needed people to carry me through the hardest of times, and later to help me figure out what parts of me were okay and what parts were not. To heal and restore. #BraverTogether

P.S. If you are in the middle of a “bravest chapter” just keep believing that there is glitter in the muck and that battle wounds and scars sometimes leave behind the most beautiful reminders of hope.

Nicole Ferguson

My dad passed away at the beginning of January 2021 after losing a short battle with coronavirus.  It is shocking, it is awful, it is painful and it is absolutely heartbreaking.  I have been given the grace to find some solace because of the support, care, love and kindness bestowed upon me and my family from so many others.  My circle is larger and stronger than I knew. I would not be walking through this if it were not for everyone who continues to reach out, check in and offer their strength to me.  Having others hold space for you is powerful, having friends and family say just the right words at just the right time means so, so much.  I am learning from others, I am leaning on others and I am trying to be brave for my mom, my children and for myself.  It is brave to have to face the world when your heart is breaking, and I am brave because I have so many beside me and now someone above me. #BraverTogether

Jodi Elgie

This past year has been one of the most difficult of my life (second only to the year that my best friend lost her son). We lost my mother-in-law in October, then my brother-in-law, as well as a dear friend to Covid in February. I started listening to Dr. Jody’s morning facebook lives and it became the brightest spot in my day. The love and support I received from the Coffee Mates, and having a community to connect with every day helped keep a flicker of light alive in my heart.

I am a teacher and after all of the events of this year I realized that while I love this career and all of my students, it’s time to step away and into a new chapter – so I have decided to retire. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, but thank you to all of you in this community for helping me to be brave, to bring my brave, and to know that we are #BraverTogether.

Kim Gordon-Krushell

I am a survivor because I had the best support system from my family and friends during the hardest time of my life. 

On March 3, 2005 my husband, RCMP Cst. Anthony Gordon, was killed in the line of duty in Mayerthorpe, Alberta. He died along with three of his RCMP brothers Leo, Peter and Brook. I was left in ultimate grief and total devastation. My only light was my 2 year old son Spencer and my unborn son, Anthony Junior (AJ). 

I made it through because of those who chose to support me and I can never forget all they did for me. I had family and friends who stepped up and made me brave again. They helped me start up life again, they went with me to doctors appointments, they drove me to the hospital when I went into labour, they supported during my labour and delivery, they drove me home, they visited, they listened, they flew in for holidays, they gave me breaks, they attended memorials with me, they lifted me up when I was on the floor, they cried with me, they loved me. 

These wonderful people are still in my life today. They come for visits, they attended my second wedding, they welcomed my husband and step daughter, Tori, into their lives, they celebrate my children’s achievements, they know my boys, they camp and golf in a memorial golf tournament every year, they call, send messages, and check-in. 

These family and friends have come from all stages of my life. They came from my hometown, from college, from marriage, from being in the same boat (my rcmp widow FABS), from my co-workers, from my husband’s brothers and sisters in the RCMP, and from new friendships. 

I love them all and it is because of these connections that I survived. #BraverTogether

Lynne Farthing

This May will mark twenty three years as a nurse. I’ve walked alongside many patients and their families on their journeys, and I’ve worked with amazing staff from many departments. This last year has been difficult – for everyone. We are tired. Some days it’s tough to put one foot in front of the other, and I miss my family so much. But, at the end of each day I remember that we have each other, and we have a combined strength to beat this! Help out a friend, hold your head high, your shoulders back, and smile at everyone you see. We’ve got this, and we are #BraverTogether. 

I am in awe of the strength and vulnerability of this community and I am so grateful to you for allowing us to raise your voices so that we can start to see ourselves in each other. Congratulations on each winning a ticket to Together 2021 on May 8th. We can’t wait to reconnect with you.

I look forward to reading more #BraverTogether stories from our community, and we’ll be announcing new winners next Friday. There is strength in vulnerability, my friends, let’s embrace it together.