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  • Writer's pictureMuna Aden

The Many Lives of Candida Sinoway

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Community Advocate, Researcher, Mother, Daughter, Grandmother, Sister and Partner

Artwork of Candida featured in the Walking the RED Path Photobook

A graduate of Confederation College’s Aboriginal Community Advocacy Program, Candida noticed early on in life that people were always drawn to her, she recalls that “back when I was younger, I used to counsel people…that were in jail. My nephew had friends that would always follow me. And they'd ask me for advice. And I would tell them, and even after they were not in jail, they would still come…A lot of people did like a whole 360, now they're working. They're working. And they're really good. And they said they wouldn't have done it without me. And I'm like, why?”.

That is an easy question to answer. Part of the appeal is her openness, wide smile and willingness to listen. She makes people feel safe and welcome and has a warmth that cannot be taught, and once felt is not easy to forget.

Her experience of being diagnosed with Hepatitis C and her desire to limit and eventually stop using substances altogether was the catalyst for a transformation that was many years in the making for someone who always displayed the skills and the heart to care for others.

Candida believes that sharing her story will help others facing similar situations. Some of the most challenging things she has experienced are shared in a publication by the Native Women’s Association of Canada titled, Walking the RED Path Photobook, where her essay “Resilience Nishinabe Kwe” is featured.

In the piece, she shares how her diagnosis and treatment for Hepatitis C led her to Elevate NWO, a service organization in Thunder Bay, Ontario which supports people experiencing challenges including homelessness and provides support including harm reduction services and access to health care. It was at Elevate NWO that Candida saw a poster for a humanities course at Lakehead University, she applied and completed the programming successfully and decided to pursue additional educational opportunities and applied for the Aboriginal Community Advocacy Program at Confederation College.

As part of her studies, Candida completed a practicum placement at Elevate NWO, which proved to be the confirmation she needed to know that community advocacy was her calling. During her placement, she conducted research interviews for the WHiSE (Walking for Harm Reduction Through Street Engagement) research study at Elevate NWO with an offer to return for employment opportunities upon

completion of her studies which came as a pleasant surprise to Candida who is now full-time staff at Elevate NWO and a research assistant with the WHiSE 2.0 research study and Circle of Care, an intervention designed to deliver Indigenous ceremonies to improve Indigenous women’s health and wellbeing. After all this, her advice to others wanting to make a change in their lives is simple:

Candida's messages of support for Circle of Care Participants

“Just go for it, try, because you never know until you try. Take it slow at first…take little steps”.

Candida’s family and specifically her sister is the main source of inspiration for her work and her goal of achieving a balance across her many roles. She counts Gabor Mate and Cyndy Baskin as influences in her journey as a helper and advocate for Indigenous people and relies on the teachings she’s received from Elders to guide others on their journeys. And at the end of each day, Candida looks forward to supper with her family, a cuddle with her kids and granddaughter and maybe if she’s lucky...a quick nap because even superheroes need a break.

Watch this space for more great features about our research, team members and the communities we work with and for. Stay tuned!

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