Celebrating Success: Leanne Opoonechaw

“You plant the seed, you may not see the bloom, but you helped plant that seed for their future.” – Laverne

Laverne has been an essential part of Quint since it was created. She is a founding board member of Quint, and one of the reasons the organization has the pulse and impact it does today.

As a lifelong resident of Pleasant Hill and many years of community organizing in the core neighbourhoods,  Laverne’s leadership was an instrumental part of the vision that led to the formation of Quint. As a member of the founding Board, Laverne helped ensure that the foundation of Quint was solid with a clear strategic plan and policies that have shaped the organization as it developed in the early years.

We first met Leanne Opoonechaw in February 2012 when she registered with the Core Neighbourhoods at Work (CNAW) program. At that time, Leanne identified that it was a struggle to stay motivated and often didn’t want to leave the house. Significantly, though, she said she felt the most motivated when she is around people.

And we have learned that Leanne is a person that is meant to be around people….for as long as we have known her she has brought brightness and laughter each and every time she has been in our office.

Originally from the James Smith Cree Nation, Leanne has made Saskatoon her home for over 20 years. She is blessed with 3 children, Rance, Regan, and Kasseigh, all of whom she raised as a single parent. To say that these years were challenging is an understatement but Leanne learnt to deal with everything that life has thrown at her.

Over the years she has had many goals and dreams. She even enrolled at the U of S Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP)…however circumstances changed and family came first. For those who know Leanne, this isn’t surprising; she has always been willing to put aside her own goals to fulfill the needs of her family.

Through the years, the Core Neighbourhoods at Work program has supported Leanne in a number of ways. From creating a résumé and cover letter, supporting her through her job search and enrolling in CNAW’s workshops, Leanne has had many successes. She has found employment numerous times and completed training such as Food Safe, SCOT, and the Moving Forward Workshop.

Leanne has also had some “bumps” along the road. Whether it was an incomplete workshop or having to quit a job because of family obligations, she has always been able to persevere. This quote sums up Leanne best:  “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”

We think Leanne’s strengths come from her ability to get back up. She is a resilient, strong, courageous, and giving individual… all the qualities that have gotten her where she is today.

When I was ready to join the workforce I was very uneasy about the idea but then I heard about Quint and the wonderful and easy going staff there. I’ve managed to overcome my low self-esteem and become so confident that I am now employed at Rexall Drugs. Thank you Quint Development staff for not giving up on me and helping me with everything!! 
Leanne Opoonechaw

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As the organization continued to grow, Laverne’s position evolved into the  Director of Operations but she continued to oversee and guide the affordable housing program. She is also one of our main social function organizers ensuring that we maintain a strong and cohesive staff team/family, something that she prides herself on. She has worked hard to make sure staff feel included, heard and part of the decision making process within the organization.

Laverne also played a large role in organizing Quint’s community events, what she calls “the fun work”. This included launching and planning the annual Our Core Communities Shine events, numerous community BBQ’s, and anniversary celebrations.

Laverne’s impact is throughout all aspects of Quint’s programming and practices. Her legacy will be that of dedication, compassion, and perseverance, always fighting for the good of her community and the people in it. On behalf of the Quint staff, board of directors and the community at large, Laverne we are so thankful for your leadership and vision to bring Quint to reality. Your contributions will continue to transcend the 26 years you have committed to our west side core communities and beyond.

Happy Retirement!