Dear MYS:

Happy Belated 25th Birthday! As I sat at the party you had in Thompson to celebrate, and afterwards as well, I had time to reflect and think about all the good you have brought into my life.

I have been a part of your organization since 2010, and continue to be a large supporter in what you do for families, but especially kids.  I know that there are many people, especially in the north that work for your company that certainly do not do the job that they do for the financial gain, but rather because of the need and out of love.  People stay employed with MYS, especially in the north because of the people who work there. Many of these people devote large portions of their own personal time to their career, while asking for nothing in return but ensuring that the youth in which they work with are safe. Some of the most humble, selfless, and giving people work for MYS and I would like to highlight many of these people in this post, not by name but by talking of them and thanking them for the past 7 years of my life.

I would have to start from the very beginning, receiving my very first call for a phone interview; me in North Bay, Ontario and them in Thompson, Manitoba. I was interviewed by two ladies from the agency, one who would become my boss, one who would become my case manager for foster care; both who would become very influential friends.  They took a shot on me without even meeting me in person, giving me the opportunity to prove myself.  I am so grateful for that opportunity, because it allowed me to meet many great friends, and great clients who have since become friends; the opportunity allowed me to learn about culture, deal with, face, and overcome grief and great loss, and point me in the direction to “my purpose” which I had been looking for since before moving here. And when the time came to move on, one of those ladies even told me “Go! go take that job, I don’t want you to, but its a great opportunity, you need to!” and then gave me a boot is the ass out the door ( she didn’t really). Thank you ladies for taking a shot on me.

One of the first people I became tight with at MYS was also the guy that wanted the same job that I got.  Now he could have been upset (I know he was), and he could have taken it out on me, but he never did.  Instead he got to know me as a person, and decided that he was going to help me and befriend me instead.  That is just the type of guy that he is, selfless even when things do not go his way.  I’ve honestly never seen a guy more devoted to the group of young men which he worked with.  He is tough but fair, and when he has to be sensitive he can put on that hat too.  If you come to Thompson just listen very carefully and you might be able to hear him laugh. lol his laugh is loud and genuine, you cant mistake it for anyone else’s.  I got to hear him speak this year at our annual MYS appreciation dinner, where he publicly recognized working with me; it was hard to keep it together.  This is a guy who introduced me and taught me how to interact with indigenous people, how to show respect, and even got me a spot as the “token white boy” on his hockey team the first year I moved here; a guy who introduced me to his family, and to his old man ( who I swear is the brown version of my dad), and said that it was a sign of respect to call his dad “dickhead” in cree. lol.  We now refer to each other as “bro”, and I am proud to call you my friend brother. Thank you for welcoming me into your world and family and making me feel a part of it; I appreciate you and everything you have done for me over the past 7 years has not gone unnoticed.

Next I have to talk about two ladies, one that has basically been a mom to the kids she works with and the other a grandmother.  Though she has since taken a different position with the organization, I know that she secretly misses the boys she was the supervisor of at the group home.  She spent much of her time and energy making sure that all of the boys had her to yell at, to make fun of, to talk to, for her to put them in their place when it needed to happen, but most of all to have her to be a strong mother figure in their lives at a time when they needed it the most being away from their families. She has always been a huge supporter of mine as well over the years and continues to be, just like she has continued to be for the kids and parents in her new role. Thank you for being a mom to other peoples kids when they needed it the most and thank you for helping me see that the kids always come first.  The next lady is the grandmother figure at MYS and you cannot talk about MYS in Thompson without mentioning her. She is in her 70’s but moves and acts like she’s a lady in her early 40’s.  She is originally from my neck of the woods in Ontario but has been in Thompson now for over 40 years! She owns a burger joint just outside of town and her burgers and fries are delicious! In the winter she works at the boys group home and cooks them delicious meals as well; no kid has ever messed with her. She can hold her own over almost any worker, and is petite French sweet lady who the boys she works with love but even more so respect. Thank you for teaching me how important it is to stay young at heart.

To the man who runs the Thompson MYS show. Often facing many symptoms of anxiety to show appreciation and support for his employees when he gets in front of them with a microphone. Thank you for showing a guy who also gets anxiety in front of large crowds that it is better to face your fear than to always stay fearful. A guy who has always gone to bat for me over the years, whether it be as a supervisor, as a respite worker, and now as a foster parent. A guy who works relentlessly hard, but who is also able to rely on his supporting cast and often gives them most of the credit while he stays behind the scenes grinding. When I said that I wanted to become a full time single foster dad, while also working full time, you found a way to make it work and put your trust in me that I could handle it all.  Thank you for your friendship, the opportunity to succeed or fail, constant words of encouragement, and your “hustle”. It’s not surprising, it runs in your family; but I appreciate everything nonetheless.

To the foster mom that I feel was once was really tough on me ( for like maybe the first couple of years). Thank you for that toughness. I know it was likely hard in the beginning in putting some sort of faith in a chubby bearded dude to take care of your 7 year old daughter, and eventually your little boy.  Now things have changed a lot over the past 6-7 years and I love your kids as if they were my own. They have provided me with many moments of laughter and happiness just by being in their presence.  You have raised them to be thoughtful, loving, caring young people mixed in with the perfect amount of crazy.  I don’t get to see them as much as I would like to anymore, but thank you for always letting me take them when I’m feeling angry, or sad, or just need to get happy in general. Thank you for including me in a tiny part of raising your kids; because you gave me the opportunity, they have brought so much happiness into my life; I am so grateful for that.

To a former MYS employee, my ukranian mother ( or sister, because she thinks she is too young to be my momma).  Thank you for always including me in your family traditions and dinners, and constant support in and out of the workplace.  It is always hard during the holidays to be so far from home, and you are always the first one to welcome me into your home, and send me home with enough food for the next week. Now you are the lady that mostly chirps me about hockey all year long, but I secretly like it. Thank you for welcoming me into your family, for the opportunity to coach your daughter, and for the opportunity to drink Ken’s liquor during the holidays. Oh, and for being my much older “sister” lol.

To another former MYS employee turned counsellor. A lady who has always been so good at connecting with the youth through lived experience and through building meaningful relationships. Seeing you so easily connect with kids and laugh and joke with them has always been something I remember about you and thinking “i want to be that kinda person”.  Getting to visit our old friend in Wasagamack,  I was so glad that I was able to do it with you.  Knowing the lengths that you will go for your students, and for your clients to succeed and to feel loved and wanted, is something I strive for and to be because of you. Thank you for showing me that sometimes you have to step outside of the box and go the extra mile for the people and kids who need and deserve it the most.

To everyone else from MYS that I have forgotten I am sorry, I know I am missing people. To the office staff past and present, thank you for all of your help and being a sounding board for when I angry, frustrated,  or upset about something. To Hammy and the soon momma to be ( I said I wouldn’t use names), thank you for getting me out and meeting people when I first moved here, to the amazing support today with things that I am involved in, you are involved in, or we are involved in or with together. Again I know I missed people, but its getting long and late and your are all in my thoughts I swear.

Finally, to every single kid I have ever worked with or continue to work with through MYS today; and to those that have passed on before their time. Some of you have become or were my very good friends; many of you were and/or continue to be great sources of my happiness; many of you living continue to struggle, fight, and hope for a better life and circumstances every single day. You are my heroes and I love you. We have laughed together, been angry together, sad together and grieved together. I am so grateful for all of you who continue to be in my life, who message me, or call me, or show love in person; the ones who call for money, the ones who call because they need a listening ear to cry to, or to tell exciting news to. You are my family and I love you, and don’t ever give up. I came here at 26 years old, and now at 33 I want you to know that above all, you kids (most now adults) have given me the one thing I was missing and searching for so badly: PURPOSE.  Thank you for helping me find it and for being my purpose.

Congratulations MYS, thank you for all of these wonderful people, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to find my purpose.





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