Episode 38: Introduced to the Foster Care System + the Quest for Questions Began

Guest: Felicia Carty

Felicia openly shares that her upbringing began with a mother who suffered with undiagnosed schizophrenia, and when she was the tender age of 6, one day at school, she met her two older brothers at the school office where they were then taken and placed in foster care. She remained in the foster care system until she was 18 years of age. Felicia connects with difficult moments and unknown feelings, never feeling settled anywhere, in addition to her identity as a mixed-race child, being raised in a predominantly Caucasian area, she carried a great deal of shame, not wanting others to know her full ethnic identity. She explores the difficulties from childhood right to adulthood, impacts post foster care, and learning later about her brother’s mental health diagnosis. Felicia expresses how difficult it felt to catch a break, feeling heartbroken all over again as what her brother would go through is what she lived through with her mother. She talks about the direct impact to her mental well-being over the years, habits she developed, co-dependencies that became constant in her life, and how the traumas that she has lived through have shaped who she has become as she has learned to re-balance her life. Her key message to the listeners is that: if you are in foster care — aim for any kind of stability; don’t leave a stable situation, whether it be a home, job, relationship; don’t ever think you are crazy for things falling apart; open your heart to love again.


Guest Bio: Felicia was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta and she now lives and works in Toronto, Ontario. She is the child of an Afro-Caribbean mother, and a Sri Lankan father. Felicia attended the University of Toronto and Centennial College for Journalism and holds minor degrees in Studio Art and Philosophy. She has since written articles for interest magazines and has worked in Communications in the non-profit sector. Most recently, Felicia has turned her attention to long-form writing, receiving two merit scholarships from Humber College’s School of Creative Writing.

Her blended diasporic roots have become part of the focus of her current work in a memoir titled, The Pigeon’s Eggs, set to be released in March 2022. When she is not working, Felicia enjoys exploring the city on her bike, experimenting with desserts and meals in the kitchen, and finding the latest comedy special or TV series to watch while she’s working out.


Passionate about: The Child Welfare Political Action Committee Canada (Child Welfare PAC) is a registered Canadian charity that advocates for a progressive child welfare system.   www.childwelfarepac.com/

Salima and Marnie on Dare to Share Your Untold Story Podcast

Episode 37: Living in the Present in Full Vulnerability When 9/11 Turned it all Upside Down

Guest: Marnie Sigmar

Marnie’s story is all about bringing her son, Joe, into the world as the dust was settling in New York from the 9/11 attacks which became a transformative experience for her. Her story circles around her experience of getting pregnant and having a scheduled delivery on that same day, while residing in downtown Chicago, where the city was bracing itself to be the next hit after New York. Her experience as she describes it is one of vulnerability and gratitude in the face of fear. Marnie explains that she was supposed to be induced that day, two weeks after her due date, she was considered a high pregnancy, but felt like a million bucks. It was the day of, when she received a phone call from a friend to check the news, this is when she and her husband realized getting to the hospital would be a challenge, as Chicago already started to shut down. Marnie takes her time to detail the experience of getting to the hospital, what it was like at the hospital, observing those in helping professions that were scared and worried and some hysterical as they could not reach their loved ones. The entire time, she found a way to hold space with compassion for others, indicating that it was the only thing that she could do, this is the time where she realized that she was part of collective humanity. Her key message to the listeners is that: build a mental health toolkit that you can carry around with you in your pocket; collect tools and sharpen your tools, so if ever faced with adversity or unknown emotions, you can turn to your toolkit; practice gratitude; be curious, ask more questions, go deeper — the more information you have it leads you to good and right choices for you.


Guest Bio: Marnie is a mom, partner, daughter, auntie, sister, and friend. She received her Master of Urban Planning and Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Political Science and Sociology from Queen’s University. Marnie regularly volunteers and serves on the Board of Directors of non-profit organizations and through Sigmar Consulting, Marnie works with non-profit organizations to raise funds, develop effective communications, and assist with organizational change.  She has facilitated strategic planning, conducted capital campaigns, and led executive hiring committees.


Marnie previously held roles in management and director levels at Yellow Brick House (York Region, Ontario), a non-profit organization that provides shelter and supportive services to women and children who have experienced domestic violence; Corporation for Supportive Housing (Chicago, Illinois), a non-profit organization that advocates for housing for lowest income families; and at Inspiration Café (Chicago, Illinois), a non-profit organization that provides restaurant-style meals and programs to people experiencing homelessness.


Passionate about: Inspiration Café, a place that has been built purely on the foundation of human dignity, providing style meals to the homeless. https://www.inspirationcorp.org/inspiration-cafe/

Salima and Dr. Naira on Dare to Share Your Untold Story Podcast

Episode 36: Dreams Do Come True When You Breakthrough ‘Your’ Shackles

Guest: Dr. Naira Velumyan

Dr. Naira takes the time to convey what it was like to be a child of divorce from the age of three being brought up in Moscow, Russia. Expressing that her mother was busy with her personal life and her father oblivious to her needs, Dr. Naira felt alone from this young age. She grew up having self-doubt, not confident in her abilities, though aspiring to be a perfectionist in anything she put her mind to. She married at the age of 16 where she strongly believes that after marrying her husband this is where the beginning of her personal growth began. She immersed herself in several career avenues, had two children and parted ways with her ‘shying away’ tendencies. Dr. Naira suffered an unimaginable loss of her husband’s murder at the age of 23, where it took twenty days to recover his body, after which she contemplated ending her own life. During her professional training and exploration with Jungian theory, she was able to connect with grief and loss for the first time and found herself in tears for the duration of a week. All these tears led her to a transformation of smiling where she had not since childhood, learning to laugh, feel her feelings and have fun. Her key message to the listeners is that: you’re not alone; even when you don’t feel it, there is someone there for you; go seek the element of your missing puzzle piece; plant your seeds into the soil — growth takes time, it won’t be seen right away, but take care of your soil.


Guest Bio: Dr. Naira currently resides both in Canada and Russia and holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and is an international Coach and Speaker on Effective Communication and Building Relationships. Dr. Naira is the Founder of the Academy of Social Competency which specializes in the training of self-confidence, communication and relationship building skills for people all over the world. Dr. Naira has trained hundreds of people and addressed hundreds of family cases. She is the author of online programs that are geared towards communication, conflict management, confidence and self-esteem, healthy couple relationships, and parent-child relationships.


Dr. Naira’s professional hobby is art. Possessing a degree of Art History and Critics, she integrates symbolism of art within her coaching practices. She is a successful entrepreneur with 23-years of experience in business, who believes in the power of collaboration and leadership. As a founding member of the Immigrant Women in Business Association, she actively supports young entrepreneurs and is the creator of franchise-like programs for those who would like to work with children and teenagers in developing their social-emotional skills.


Passionate about: Inspired and encouraged with the support she has received from

Immigrant Women in Business: https://immigrantwomeninbusiness.com/

Salima and Karima on Dare to Share Your Untold Story Podcast

Episode 35: Traumatically Segregated on Multiple Levels Due to Her Divergent Personality

Guest: Karima Jaffer

Karima voices what it has been like to be caught in a system she believes has failed her by giving her a false mental health diagnosis leading to a life altering narrative, combined with the difficulties that come along with her identity as an ethnically mixed Muslim woman of colour. She shares details about feeling like the odd one out growing up, being bullied not just with appearance but also in her line of thinking and expression. She openly discusses the experience of her first psychosis induced mania episode which she had not been equipped to handle, later bringing her true diagnoses forward of bipolar 1 and borderline personality disorders. She describes the experience of shame and associated feelings that lingered, cognitive impairments that she has suffered because of these episodes, losing people important to her, and lacking a sense of belonging. Karima expresses that throughout the journey, whatever strife she has encountered, she is grateful for her diagnoses and now has a new perspective on life. The journey has taught her to write, reflect, and know the importance of cherishing herself. Her key message to the listeners is that: when you want to speak, do it, express your emotions; use your emotions as signals to communicate with yourself and others; you get to choose who is on your team, and you need to be on your own team.


Guest Bio: Karima is an innovator and spark builder, and knowledge enthusiast. She is completing a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW). She has been inspired to pursue this field because of personal experiences with inequity regarding her family who have dealt with ageism and classism. Prior to the MSW, Karima worked in the business sector as a business strategist. Her roles encompassed areas of human resources, finance, and project coordination. She enjoyed the mentorship opportunities that she gained allowing her to see and experience various leadership styles across numerous settings. Her passion for social justice has inspired her to initiate projects in the areas of mental health education, financial literacy, and female youth empowerment.


Outside of her professional experiences, Karima is a caregiver to an elderly father who has early-onset dementia and is the only family member fluent in English. During her free time, Karima volunteers in the community, explores with her friends, and engages in artistic modalities, such as visual art, poetry, music and writing her own blog. A fun fact about Karima is that she is an avid amazon shopper!


Passionate about: Stella’s Place — a community held close to her heart, a community where she feels she belongs and a former board of director: stellasplace.ca