For many, Mother’s Day is a time to catch up with mom and reflect on the impact she’s had on our lives. Often, our mothers were our first and greatest teachers. This Mother’s Day, The Squamish Chief spoke with several prominent Squamish residents about the most important lessons they learned from their mothers.
Staff Sgt. Jolaine Percival – Squamish RCMP
Staff Sgt. Jolaine Percival remembers having an “amazing childhood” growing up on a hobby farm on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast.
She’s grateful to her mom for teaching her how to problem solve by letting her make her own decisions. She remembers a particularly tough one in her final year of high school when her graduation party and a track-and-field meet in Kamloops fell on the same day.
“For me, that was a super difficult decision,” she said. “I remember saying to my mom… Do I go, or do I stay? She said this is something that you just have to figure out.”
Percival ended up skipping her graduation and going to Kamloops where she beat her personal best time. From there, she went on to the Junior Pan-American Games in Winnipeg.
“She did such a great job allowing us just to be ourselves and make those decisions. And if we really did struggle or we failed at certain things, she was there to make it okay,” Percival said.
June Percival is a 66-year-old Japanese-Canadian whose parents were moved to the Interior when they were sent to internment camps during the Second World War. She’s a trained psychiatric nurse who later transitioned into running the farm. Her daughter describes her as equal parts funny and strong.
“Everybody loves her… Kids up on the Sunshine Coast will call her grandma and they’re not related to her,” she said.
Sgt. Percival thinks she picked up that ability to connect from her mom, and says it comes in handy in policing.
Pam Goldsmith-Jones – MP for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country
Pam Goldsmith-Jones says her mom Joan Fletcher looks like her and sounds like her. You’ll also find them reading the same books, planning similar holidays and living in homes decorated in the spitting image of each other.
“Even when I light the candles in my apartment I think, ugh, I’m turning into my mom,” Goldsmith-Jones said with a laugh.
But she thinks that’s where the similarities end. Goldsmith-Jones said her political career means she’s constantly pushing herself. Her mother, on the other hand, reminds her not to take herself too seriously.
“She’d say I drive myself way too hard. She’d say just relax, slow down smell the flowers,” Goldsmith-Jones said. “My mom has a tremendous sense of humour … she’s for fun.”
The biggest lesson Goldsmith-Jones says she learned from her mom, though, is to always pay compliments.
“She couldn’t stand it if you would put someone else down,” she said. “She’d say you don’t go up in life by putting anybody down.”
Tsawaysia Spukwus (Alice Guss) – Squamish Nation artist and educator
Tsawaysia Spukwus, whose English name is Alice Guss, is a Squamish Nation artist and public speaker who teaches drum-making, weaving and cedar crafting. Her mother, Gwen Harry, also worked as an educator. Spukwus says her mom taught her how important it is to work in the community.
Harry went back to school to complete her Grade 12 diploma and an early childhood education program as an adult. She was forced to attend residential school as a child, and if she had gone on to enroll in a university program, she would have lost her status under the Indian Act.
“She’s a really strong person,” said Spukwus. “She’s like the matriarch of the family … She’s a really good listener, and she helps us get through whatever we need to get through.”
Spukwus often leads workshops in schools herself now, and she’s learned from her mom that every child is unique.
“I just love the concept that we want to help one to help themselves,” she said.
Even though Harry is 87 and retired now, Spukwus said her mother is still an active volunteer in the community.
“Last Christmas was our tenth annual Christmas dinner for the homeless,” said Spukwus. “I’ve always seen my mom do stuff like that. She was always there helping.”
Mayor Patricia Heintzman
The Mayor of Squamish thinks the drive her mother and grandmother instilled in her to volunteer is the backbone of her political career. She remembers them being so generous with their time, and now she strives to serve the community, too.
“If you get those foundations young, they will translate through your entire life,” she said.
As well, she thinks her mother taught her a good way of dealing with people is to pay attention to their positive attributes.
“Really understanding to let the good, quirky, wonderful things outweigh the more challenging aspects,” she said.
On top of that, she also has her mom to thank for some practical skills.
“I think I’ve learned a lot about how to microwave meals from my mother,” Heintzman said, with a laugh.
Jordan Sturdy – MLA for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky
Jordan Sturdy credits his mother, Martha Sturdy, with showing him how to persevere when life throws twists in the road.
“[In life], the path is never entirely clear… or you should never expect it to be straightforward,” said Sturdy, who’s gone from working for his mother’s business to leading backcountry expeditions in the Rockies to farming in Pemberton and finally into politics.
Martha is an artist and accomplished sculptor who graduated from what is now Emily Carr University in Vancouver. She’s also an adept businesswoman and owner of Martha Sturdy Designs.
Sturdy said his mother always encouraged him to follow his dreams and to try his best not to be disappointed when things didn’t work out. Although it’s impossible to predict where life will take you, he said she also taught him always to have an eye on the future.
“If you don’t have any path or destination in mind, then any path will do,” he said. “But if you have a sense of where you want to go then it will help guide you.”