I sometimes shutter when reflecting on the fact that it’s been some years now since I successfully transitioned out of care. It’s not hard to imagine that as a young person filled with optimism and hope for opportunity, I was also filled with butterflies of excitement and nervousness. Arriving at the Mississauga Convention Centre  – for the Joint Recognition Dinner hosted by Peel CAS and Peel Children’s Aid Foundation, brought back memories of college. From the many late nights barely staying awake, ‘burning the midnight oil’ to finish term papers, to the budget friendly, main staple macaroni and tuna meals to get through, to the mercifully free school bus rides to the local pub; it all started coming back to me.

As I reflected during my walk into the beautifully decorated interior of the venue, I realized that this was my homecoming. I was not only the alumni, or the former crown ward, but I was also the keynote speaker! I was entrusted with the opportunity to share my all too exceptional and unconventional story of trials and achievements with the over 400 invited and distinguished guests; most notably and importantly, those that are currently in care or whom have had lived experience, and involvement within the child welfare system.

Throughout the evening, I celebrated with the audience of guests, the various awards and bursaries presented to the promising youth. And the acknowledgments made to the remarkable stakeholders in the Peel Region community – from loyal and caring foster parents, generous donors, committed volunteers, and dedicated staff. I was reminded of the strength, bravery and resilience shown by children and youth in the face of adversity, upon seeing a young mother having her son join her on stage to receive an award.

I am sure that any power achieved or given to a person finds its ultimate value, potential and divine purpose in its ability to elevate others to achieve their sense of purpose. Not many, if any for that matter, can truly say that he/she made it to where they are today without the support, resources, or help from someone else. Many may be able to tell you exactly who inspired, motivated and propelled them to their successes. Hopefully those supports have been there, and will be there for the “long-run”, comforting your fears, and uplifting you during critical junctures in life. For some, especially youth in care  – these supports have been fragmented, inconsistent and divided.

I believe that through life experience, that things can go one way or the other. The defining elements that determine the course of action taken, generally come from who and what messages have been embedded into the fabric of your character as you work to develop it over the course of a lifetime.

Kemesha Alli/ June 10,2019