by Lara Gunkel (Burnaby)
I come from a family of resilient women. One day I hope to write a movie about my life story. The title would be Triple Endurance because of how strong I am, because of how strong my mother was, and because of how strong her mother and my father’s mother were. Resilience is in my blood.
I am German Ukrainian on my father’s side, and Irish French Canadian on my mother’s side. When I was young, my parents split up. I grew up mostly with my mom in Vancouver. I was bullied in school. I kept my head down in high school and decided to join the student council. I won a service award. My leadership focused on creating social events so more people can be included.
After high school I moved with my mom to Alberta and studied theatre and drama at Red Deer College. Then we moved to live on a farm in Saskatchewan with my step-dad until my mom passed away from cancer in 2015.
After my mom passed, I moved back to B.C. I had no label of disability until my doctor referred me to medical genetics. I was connected to Community Living BC and other inclusion organizations and social groups. My world began to open. I started public speaking, got involved in job club, theatre club and now I am a Real Talk Peer Facilitator. I help people with diverse abilities talk about sexuality and relationships.
For me resilience is about the ability to keep on going, even when you’ve been knocked around. Resilience is about having a positive attitude, strong faith and believing you can do anything you set your mind to. The way I stay strong during COVID is to move to the beat of my own tune the best I can. I stay strong by setting goals for the future, even with my personal limitations and the limitations of COVID. It’s important to always be a self advocate for my own health and for my life goals.
I am planning a virtual Sexual Expo that will have story telling, resources, self advocate support and more. Having connections, creative ideas and being part of community where people know me keeps me strong and resilient like my mother and my grandmother before me. We need to all be resilient to bring love and peace for a better earth.