I am grateful that Teresa Stevenson (Teresa Schmidt) is a part of my life.

If you don’t know her, Teresa is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor, operating Restorative Steps Counselling Services.  For the sake of vulnerability, I will admit that not only is she a friend, but I have also been a client in the past and I know first-hand that the services she offers are a safe place for people to find healing.

Teresa works hard to remove the stigma around mental health and creates a really welcoming, non-intimidating environment.  My hope (and hers, I’m sure) is that people reading this will know it’s okay to get help. It’s okay to reach out. It’s okay to be unwell… and the hope for those people is to find the courage to work in and through their pain and suffering.

Teresa is also one of the loveliest and most soft-spoken people I know.  Like many of the women I’ve interviewed, Teresa’s story is one of pain and brokenness, but it doesn’t end there. Teresa is resilient. Strong. Capable. As she shares her story and puts together pieces of a broken past, she invites others to do the same.  She is a champion of women and I am so lucky to be able to know her- even a little bit.

Welcome to the table, Teresa!

How long have you called the Bulkley Valley home? 

I arrived in the Bulkley Valley in the fall of 1995 with my husband and my two oldest children to participate in the family owned and run Par 3 Golf Course and RV park, so Smithers has been my home for 26 years. Growing up, my family moved often so this is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my life.

What is one thing you’ve learned about friendship (or community)? 

The concept of belong to a community is something I am still learning about. Our family moved communities every 1-5 years during my developmental years and so it never felt safe for me to put down roots and to establish a sense of belonging. In the past 15 years, the beautiful people of this valley have taught me what it is to belong by supporting me and my family during some very dark times. I cannot imagine how much more challenging my life would have been if I had not had strong friendships and community to encourage and just showing up when I was struggling, celebrate with me in times of joy and help and support me when I could not manage on my own. And my life is fuller now that I have a sense of belonging to a community and have been able to give back by encouraging and supporting others with what I have.

What is one area you are growing in?

I am currently working on learning and practicing radical self-compassion and self-care. For many years, I believed that it was selfish or that I was undeserving of pursuing my dreams or to prioritize care for my body, mind and spirit and as a woman in my culture, it was easy for me to neglect myself. So, it has been an act of rebellion for me to begin to nurture and love myself better. 

What is one thing you would say to your younger self?

I would love to tell my younger self that it is ok to be strong and bold and that the better she is able to love herself, the better she will be able to love others.

Who inspires you and why?

I have been inspired by so many courageous and resilient individuals who have fought back and risen above adverse circumstances with integrity. Among these overcomers are my late husband Rick, my three children and many of the individuals that I have the privilege to work with. 

What do you know is true, and how do you carry that day to day? 

I know that life is precious, ever changing, sometimes inconceivably painful and often overwhelmingly beautiful. So, I work to make space and honour the pain and celebrate and cherish my loved ones and beautiful moments.