Salima and Christine on Dare to Share Your Untold Story Podcast

Episode 34: The Devastation + Stigma of a Parent’s Divorce and the Unknown Mental Health Crisis

Guest: Christine Yerrill

Christine openly shares how she has struggled with depression since her teen years, undiagnosed, with some re-occurrences post-partum. She explains that her parents’ marriage had fallen apart and the narrative that was created in her mind was that her family had fallen apart. The breakdown of the family unit was a major theme in her struggles growing up. Christine shared that at the time of her parents’ divorce was also a time where divorce was uncommon, and there was a great deal of stigma placed on women who divorced. Her parents were both going through their own emotional pain and suffering, and they did not recognize Christine’s. She openly speaks about how it rattles her to her core when she doesn’t have control over a situation, particularly a stressful one, and anytime there appears a massive change. There were numerous mental health impacts, such as predominant sadness, zapped energy, and inability to complete simple tasks. Some of the impact manifested in weight gain, she ate her feelings, sensation of taste was heightened only to ‘feel good’ in the moment.

Her key message to the listeners is that: social health is so important; you are braver than you think you are with a deeper capacity than you might give yourself credit for; your journey will have hills and valleys — neither last forever.


Guest Bio: Christine has been a valued member of the LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell team since 2002 in both client facing and people leadership roles.  She currently holds the role of Director, Public Safety Development, focused on the needs of the First Responder sector.  She has served over 19 years in the organization, ensuring the LifeWorks services meet employers’ needs.  Her clients have included some of Canada’s largest unionized employers. In her role, Christine brings her ability to engage wellness and leadership stakeholders, problem solve, educate, and build trusting relationships.  This includes oversight of program design, implementation and management, communications, and recommendations for prevention strategies.  She develops strong partnerships with prospective clients and stakeholders, delivers constructive evaluations of programs and demonstrates the positive impact of Lifeworks’ services for members and employees.


Christine is the creator, producer, and co-writer of the HeartBeat Webinar Series, LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell’s monthly client facing “talk radio” style education & sales webinar series, delivering content to organizational leaders on human resource content including mental health. She is the winner of four Employee Assistance Society of North America Corporate Awards of Excellence for her work with Peel Regional Police (2014); Ontario Power Generation (2011 and 2018); Atomic Energy of Canada (2012).


Passionate about: Employee and Family Assistance Programs, especially: 

Lifeworks and WW (weightwatchers)

Salima and Maria on Dare to Share Your Untold Story Podcast

Episode 33: Disruption + Chaos Endured, and Now She Soars Above It All

Guest: Maria Morvai

At around eight years of age, she identifies as the last generation born in Estonia, Maria was raised in the Soviet Union, taught the Russian language, and brought up amidst chaos where the country was re-starting from the ground up, in addition to being abandoned by her father. At the age of fourteen, she watched Western culture on TV, which inspired her to be there one day. During her upbringing there were a great deal of pressures that felt cumbersome at times, feeling in ‘survival mode’, she felt lonely, which led to questioning her self-worth. Maria shares that her story is based on the premise that it wasn’t about giving up when it felt like everything was against her. She speaks about the introduction of the ‘Alien Passport’, it was known that if you were Russian, this is the documentation that would be given, classified as a non-citizen with no permissions to travel, bound to remain in the country. She was surrounded by discrimination, poverty, desperation as she witnessed her mother face many struggles. She expresses there was no one to care for her feelings and experienced a lack of self-identification both with her nationality and profession. When the opportunity to immigrate to Canada became a possibility, she took the risk at the age of twenty-four, without adequate finances, language barriers, minimal support, and today is the proud owner of a boutique law firm. Her key message to the listeners is that: love and believe in yourself; if there is something you want to achieve, work on it, but be your own team; learn self-respect; fight your inner critic; and learn to enjoy the present.

Guest Bio: Maria is the founder and principal lawyer of MMA Law Firm – a boutique law firm and she is a real estate investor. She is a member of Law Society of Ontario, the Women’s Law Association of Ontario, the Women’s Executive Network, both the Ontario and Canadian Bar Associations, and a founding member of Immigrant Women in Business. She regularly writes legal blogs that help her readers get educated in the areas of real estate, wills and estates, and family law, and is also involved in several pro-bono projects.

Originally from Estonia with Russian origins, she grew up in a post-soviet country that was healing from the soviet occupation by turning against non-ethnic minorities, all while entering independence in a state of serious disorder and economic chaos. From a young age, Maria learned to hide her vulnerabilities and weaknesses since there was no place left in her life for being weak. After moving to Canada at the age of 24, Maria completed the NCA accreditation process which is an alternative route taken by internationally trained lawyers to get certified in Canada.


Passionate about: All the support that is provided and made available to lawyers by the Law Society of Ontario; and all the support and resources made available to immigrant entrepreneurs supported by Immigrant Women in Business:

Salima and Cindy on Dare to Share Your Untold Story Podcast

Episode 32: A Marriage + Divorce, Both Behind Closed Doors

Guest: Cindy Stibbard

Cindy conveys that no one really understands what a marriage is going through behind closed doors and what it is like to be married to a ‘covert narcissist’. She shares that this is a difficult personality to identify and has a grave impact on a person’s sense of worth and mental well-being. She describes the experience to include gas-lighting, subtle and unseen manipulations, and a great deal of oppression. Cindy mentioned that she was afraid of being alone, she wasn’t in a position of recognizing red flags, and in hindsight is able to now see that there was a parallel between the mannerisms of her father and husband of the time. She indicated during the midst of the marriage falling apart, she was reliant on substances and through the divorce, initially there was depression and a great deal of anxiety. Cindy’s experience taught her to rise above and put her game face on, though she says that sweeping issues under the rug didn’t make issues disappear, it only built up further until she felt lost. She shared that it took five years to come to terms with the need for divorce. She learned to lead, did her work to lead, not letting the lawyer be in the driver’s seat, she was able to call the shots and be the one in charge. Her key message to the listeners is that: take it slow, it’s a marathon not a sprint; you need more than just a lawyer for support; acquire third party support to help navigate the process; unpack the traumas that the divorce brings; and keep your focus on a response rather than a reaction.


Guest Bio: Cindy is the driven and compassionate leader and CEO behind ‘Divorce ReDefined’, a Vancouver-based separation and divorce coaching practice. Cindy sees that divorce can be a messy, stressful, and particularly raw experience and few truly understand the process, know their options or how to cope with and manage this major life transition most effectively. After going through her own divorce, Cindy felt inspired to help others successfully navigate this difficult time in their lives.


As a Certified Separation, Divorce, Career and Transition Coach, Cindy created her unique practice to help people on an international level through every stage of their divorce and beyond to redefining themselves in their new chapter of life. The goal of Cindy’s vision of creating Divorce ReDefined is to lead the charge of changing the experience of divorce. Living by the mantra, “When we know better, we do better”, she is on a mission to eradicate the stigma around divorce by redefining the entire experience.


Passionate about:

All the many professionals who are really coming together to change the experience of divorce and the many that have contributed in some way to Divorce ReDefined:  Website:


Salima and Svetlana on Dare to Share Your Untold Story Podcast

Episode 31: Who She Was and Who She Became; Shifting Challenge into Grains of Beauty

Guest: Svetlana Ratnikova

Svetlana’s story begins when she talks about building her first business in Russia, during a time where she had to deal with not-organized Russian Mafia. She claims it was a disaster as the Mafia were forming different groups. As soon as privatization was born in her country, that meant she could own a business, and so she immediately took her first steps to get registered and started her venture. Being one of the first female entrepreneurs in Russia, she learned all her skills from men, she got to know the banking system were boxes of money, there was opportunity to make money fast, however, it came with a price. She explains that it was the experience of criminal activities, the more money she had, the more problems she had, as there were 12 groups that had to be paid off. Svetlana shares that there was need to pay people to protect her and her family, she witnessed criminal torture, and it wasn’t until the time where threat was placed on her son, this was her defining moment where she made the decision to immigrate to Canada. She speaks about the abuse that she endured from her former husband, and the strife and struggle it was to adjust to a new country with limited support, language barriers, though feeling the toughness, she felt welcomed into the country which allowed her to build skills, learn and grow. Her key message to the listeners is to: surround yourself with positive people — it takes effort and time; learn to communicate; dreams big or small take time to build, but take the time to build it anyway; never give up or settle; lead with tremendous love for all people; and engage in the world.


Guest Bio: Svetlana was born in Moscow, Russia and immigrated to Canada in 1994. She commenced her leadership journey at the tender age of 20, when she became one of the first female entrepreneurs in Moscow. In Canada her career path journeyed through a major market research firm working with some of the largest companies in the world as clients; she became a head-hunter for pharmaceutical companies; in 2001 Svetlana launched Terra Naturals Inc. with the mission to improve lives with natural, petroleum free body care products. Over the years, she has proven her ability to combine innovative concepting and deep understanding of global consumer insight, allowing the vision to be carried from idea to execution.

Svetlana is a collaborative, insightful, and innovative creative strategist. She is a motivator, communicator, relationship builder and developer of top talent. She supports entrepreneurs of small to medium-sized businesses, leaders, and professionals to achieve their aspirations and bring their dreams to life. She enjoys working directly with young people to help them to explore enterprise as viable and sustainable paths to secure their socio-economic futures.


Passionate about:

She has founded a non-profit social enterprise of immigrant women entrepreneurs and enjoys walking alongside these women in their journeys and pursuits.