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September 2020

I believed in myself!

Those are the words of Daphne Sinclair, a First Nations Ojibway woman from Hollow Water First Nation, located on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. It is this mindset that paved her decision to open her own housing consulting business, White Thunderbird Consulting Inc.

The Individual.
Meet Daphne Sinclair

As with many women, the decision to launch this entrepreneurial venture did not come easy. In fact, it was about this time last year Daphne entered my office with feelings of being stuck. She was working for a male-dominated engineering consulting company. Simply put, she wasn’t happy.

She constantly felt that her housing project ideas and visionary prospects were not taken seriously by the people she consulted with in the community. She had a particular vision of how these projects could and should unfold, but the initial excitement she felt as these were stomped out by male decision makers. As Daphne put it so eloquently, ‘It was a double whammy for me.’ She felt at times she was fighting both gender inequality and racial discrimination.

Luella: What was the biggest challenge you faced in the last year?

Daphne: In late 2019, my 6-month contract was ending with a small engineering consulting company. I had nothing lined up to do after this job, but part of me didn’t want them to continue my contract because I was not happy. I acquired a valuable skill set by working there, but it wasn’t fulfilling. I knew that I needed to go out on my own.

I registered my business White Thunderbird Consulting Inc. and started to get all my ducks lined up in a row. I am not one for taking risks, so I was putting out feelers to attain small contracts with housing decision-makers. Christmas of 2019 was hard. We told the kids it would be better next year, but I was worried. We managed the finances and I reluctantly went on Unemployment Insurance. Then mid-January, a short-term contract appeared.

Luella: What drove you to continue on in early January, when there was so much uncertainty and despair?

Daphne: I guess I believed in myself. I knew I had a certain skillset that our People especially needed. I have seen many housing construction projects fail in our communities because no one was managing the project well.

You see, Daphne did not allow emotion and logic in be in the same boxing ring, because emotion will always win over logic. Was it logical to risk being out of work when finances were tight? Despite these thoughts overwhelming her at times, she moved forward and took calculated risks in order to reduce her fear. As she put it “I got all my ducks in a row”. After thinking it through over the course of months, she saw it as a calculated risk she was willing to accept.

Daphne did not choose an option that brought her the least amount of anxiety, she chose the option that brought her the most anxiety. She based her decisions on fact, not just on her feelings. Therefore, she was able to navigate through her thoughts, sifting through what she knew was the truth (her potential) and what societal norms were telling her. She understood the difference between skill and chance. She had the skillset to carry out her dream. Any skill she felt lacking in could be learned. She had the work ethic. With this reflection she was able to minimalize risk and maximize success.

Acknowledgment of this skill set is really what catapulted her to register her business. She is now passionate to teach First Nation community members that they too can build their own skill set.

Daphne: There are times where I know I could hire outside private housing contractors to have the project done faster and more efficiently, but if we continue to act in this way, we are robbing the community members from the opportunity to develop a skilled labour force that can multiply in generations to come.

When I first read over Daphne’s website – what stood out the most were the words she used throughout the website’s content. There was a lot of ‘we’ and ‘us’ along with ‘team’ and ‘collaboration’. It was not the typical selling website jargon, “This is what I can do for you”. Rather, the site was simple, clear, calming, and welcoming.

Luella: As a functional medicine practitioner, I advocate for my clients to review current lifestyle practices to see if something could be tweaked to ensure better emotional health. Examples are sleep, movement/exercise, nutrition, relationships/community, and stress management. Would you consider you prioritize one of these more than another?

Daphne: It’s hard to put it in order, I would say balance everyday life, self-care, and do your best.

Daphne believes so much in work-life balance that while building her company, she also started a holistic healing business that combines both Western and Indigenous practices. So not only did she start one business, but two! This girl is smokin’ it!

The business is called White Thunderbird Holistic Works and you can check out it’s Facebook page. Her vision is to build more and more classes, but for now it offers:

1. Smoke Reading

2. Microdermabrasion Group Sessions or Party. Self-care

3. Pow wow/Zumba fit in the parks (could be Kildonan Park or other parks)

4. Meditation in the parks

5. Herbal Cleansing for self-care workshop

6. Reiki/Cedar Bath

I think this is such a great example of stepping out of your comfort zone, quieting the inner critic, and doing what you know brings you happiness, that I just needed to write about it. I hope it might give you the courage to do the same.

Have you been thinking of becoming an entrepreneur but having difficulty weighing out the risks of starting your own business or making a career change? I would love to hear about it. Please let me know but sending me a message.

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Luella Jonk Therapy and Wellness

Registered Psychotherapist | Functional Medicine Candidate,
Manitoba R2M 0T5 Canada

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