Yoga Teacher, Community Worker, Environmental Advocate, and Queer Survivor & Thriver
the early years Born in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I was born and assigned male at birth in 1988. At the time and place, I became a child of divorce, raised mostly by a single mother until the age of 12 with a sister 3 years my elder. Having seen the hard work of a single mother motivated purely on her love for her children, I found my path intertwined with helping others from my first memory onward. As a natural intuitive, even though my family thought I was a quiet, shy little boy, I showed signs of intuitive healing, caring for others when they were unwell, and protecting those most vulnerable to the forces of shadow in the world.
I survived being outed as "gay" at the age of 13, and overcame immense bullying -- physical assaults, social isolation and grief of lost friends as my male -identifying friends became afraid of me. These friends didn't know I really more of a girl, but they had seemingly more important issues to worry about, given the conditions of the world at the time (this was post 9/11 and we were hormonal teenagers!)
Having undiagnosed Crohn's disease symptoms as early as the age of 8 years old, I eventually experienced severe suicidal depression at the age of 15, surviving three suicide attempts before the age of 17.
Unbeknownst to the world around me, I was also surviving a complicated case of predation. Passing by various doctors and mental health professionals, no one seemed to notice I was very clearly manifesting symptoms of trauma. But no one thought to assess my environment and thus whole Being.
My mother didn't know what to do -- my warrior of a mother supported me as best she could in my being a feminine "gay boy" and now she had a child with a severe illness! My beautiful mother did what she had to do to keep her child alive and did her best considering just how much danger I was in.
first taste of freedom I broke away from the predation at the age of 19, started having relationships, and further developed addictions to stimulants and alcohol to cope with the pain of trauma. My Crohn's symptoms largely went away during this time, and once I decided to recover after meeting my first energetic healer, Moira Darling, the healing work began.
I decided to become a social worker, quit the drugs and get therapy so I could give back to a world that did its best, and protect other people from being harmed as I had.
After receiving inappropriate therapy from well-meaning but under-qualified therapists, I connected with an acupuncturist and a Masters-level Social Worker with over 25 years, serving PTSD clients who survived severe childhood sexual trauma and trauma from the wars in Afghanistan/other areas of military deployment.
Integrating this team with Western medicine along with cannabis therapy... the disease finally lost its hold on my body.
However... I fell apart, having nightmares, terror-ridden thoughts and worsening of a relationship with alcohol, but finally free of the street drugs that threatened my sanity and integrity.
off to Montreal I finished my Bachelor of Social Work, said goodbye to the wonderful man who held me while I cried and healed through the horror, and I moved to Montreal, seemingly to start anew working as a social worker in French. I did some yoga classes with some teachers at The Lotus Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland and didn't realize just how potent the practice would become in saving my life over and over again.
Struggling to make ends meet, I almost gave up and moved home after being turned down for a job with child protective services in Montreal. Then, finally, after succeeding in becoming professionally accredited to practice in French, I got a French-speaking job working as a generalist social worker in a hospital in southwest Montreal.
This was a dream job -- I consulted primarily on Medicine and Surgery, working with the assessment of people in loss of daily autonomy -- mostly elders and stroke victims, but also some physical rehabilitation patients. Working tightly in teams with nurses, medical doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and of course, at the center, the patients and their families; I cried many tears in my dark little office in the hospital basement wondering how we could become so unwell as a society -- meanwhile the pain of not understanding led me to connect with the wrong people and stray toward illness and ignorance -- my previously inactive Crohn's disease came alive, and addiction wasn't far behind.
As a generalist, I was also consulted in Emergency working with a huge constellation of patients for immediate discharge planning, Obstetrics for new parents who were in vulnerable positions, Intensive Care for patients dangerously close to death from health complications, and Family Planning for women who were not clear on their decision to have an abortion.
I started to notice a few things -- I would assess patients and start to get intuitive hints about what was going on in their bodies based on their life themes and developmental traumas. I noticed that certain diagnoses almost always had certain "flavours" of tragedy; Heart patients seemed to be carrying such deep and immovable grief in their families -- bowel patients, like myself, seemed to be trapped in unending difficulty accepting Life on Life's terms and personal enslavement in some ways in their lives.
I also seemed to be the only one openly noticing the connection between emotions and illness. I tried to explore this for the sake of the patients, but I was met with outward resistance as the mandate of the hospital was to treat people as symptoms instead of complex systems interacting with complex systems. Of course, we still looked at the needs each professional was assessing, but a synthesis of the mind-body experience seemed unspoken.
I also noticed among all the chaos and hopelessness that miracles were taking place every day, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
(Un)Fortunately, the hospital was not the right place for me and I didn't know how to take care of my own body. I began struggling with what I now know as gender dysphoria. I grieved impossible motherhood along with the mothers who lost their babies, and cried the quiet (and sometimes loud) tears along with the older women who had been abandoned by their busy families despite having given so much, so selflessly. I listened to the stories of the women who were not being heard, and the families who knew there was hope but had to fight for it.
Eventually, I was led to Louise Hay's book "You Can Heal Your Life" by a magical friend I met from a man I was dating who was, incidentally, from Vancouver, where I now make my home and service practice in whole new ways.
I started to practice yoga nidra to cope with the sleepless nights. I dug into crystal healing, affirmations, and a daily practice of asking the universe which words I needed in order to heal and be an effective healer with a "healing words" game involving the chakras, affirmation verbs, and a coin toss.
Led to bestselling author Carol Tuttle's initial Chakra7 course, I finally had language to describe what I was seeing in my patients!! I was not alone, and in fact, I was part of a growing body of people waking up to the lost beauty of Life!
Chakras gave me a way to contextualize and organize the stories I was being told, and I learned how to use narrative therapy to liberate people from some chronic illness patterns, and pair intuition with intellect to locate the area of healing most needed for each individual person. This led me to be able to connect people with the right support to move forward in health and happiness, even when hope was all but lost.
the first awakening
I began to practice Emotional Freedom Technique and pendulum reading on my chakras... and then it happened.
It was 2012. I started to awaken to my True abilities as a healer, led to the right people and places through the consciousness of the internet.
One patient in the Intensive Care Unit, a woman who was literally dying from taking on all the pain of her family and being trapped in alcoholism as a result... was given 24 hours to live. I loved this woman deeply and purely and, from a place of immense grief, love and compassion, I reached out to this dying woman, held her hand, looked in her eye, and felt what would later be known as an energy transfer. I didn't know what Life had in store for her but I held her so dear as we locked eyes.
Only... I had no training in reiki or pranic healing and was sick with my own latent alcoholism just waiting for an opportunity to strike.
The next day, I went back to the ICU to see if the woman made it through the night.
Miraculously... the woman's health started to make a comeback. Although she lost the use of her legs temporarily... she suddenly went from being at death's door to now going on to life and be cared for. The course of her life had changed.
And so did mine. My drinking worsened, my disease worsened, and very strange and horrifying experiences started to arise in some patients affected by mental health and trauma. I began to have severe nightmares, and going to sleep became just another adventure into a world of calamity and fear. I was in a figurative hell.
I visited my home and saw that my family needed me, and saw my long lost ex-boyfriend for what I didn't know would be the last time where we could hold one another.
back home for another kick at the trauma
My family and my home called me back, and I went back to the place where the trauma and illness first got into my body to finally have a fighting chance.
In March 2013, now in awakening, I moved home, and my sister, also a social worker, bought me an intro month to Moksha Hot Yoga St. John's (now Modo). In my absence, addiction had taken over my hometown, and yoga started to blossom as a counter-balancing force. People known just as lost addicts became local saints in their worlds.. and massive healing and unpacking were unfurling.
I had many teachers as I steeped myself in yoga. I was on fire, not working, burning with the pain of trauma and disease. I was actively being persecuted by people from my abuse history, former drug buddies from my former addict life, and the demons in my dreams.
Yoga was the water that put out the fire, and I practiced so hard to stay out of suicide and addiction. Lost and confused, the love of my life wanted nothing to do with me, and my family was spiralling in shambles.
Nevertheless, I persisted.
I let my community transform me once again into a beacon of light in a tidal wave of chaos surrounding me.
I held my family's hands as we all panicked, not knowing what to do. I learned Reiki 1 & 2 from Nadine Emberley of Reiki on the Rock, another humble servant of the healing arts, and was touched by so many wonderful yoga teachers and motivational speakers/healers who also won the battles with themselves and worked to lift people out of their suffering.
I decided I would be a yoga teacher. But I didn't even know I was having a transgender experience. An advocate for queer folks my whole life, I didn't realize not only was my Mi'kmaq two-spirit heritage important, but I was more of a woman than a man in my polarities. I was outwardly feminine in my "masculine mask," and surrounded myself with strong women who could teach me the tough subtle lessons of womanhood and the gifts of walking this way... but I was unsafe, protected only by the refuge of my yoga teachers who selflessly served me, despite how unwell I was.
almost, but not quite on the path
Eventually, I decided to leave the hometown and, after an unsuccessful trip through an organic farm in Ottawa, I returned and worked again as a social worker in the Child Protection field on the western side of Newfoundland.
Here was where I learned for once and for all that I was a yoga teacher and intuitive healer above any "professional" role of a western health care practitioner. Rural Newfoundland had even less openness to the mind-body connection keeping me alive and well. I taught yoga to vulnerable youth and held a low-cost meditation group at the local YMCA. I showed up alone some days, often teaching to an audience of one, and practiced with a teacher that wouldn't give up on me from Moksha/Modo in St. John's who was now on the west coast serving nature.
The call of Nature became louder - I was led to environmental actions and art events that spoke of the future of nature and the future of Canada... and I was called to leave Newfoundland or die there. It became unmistakable as I connected with the shamanic practices of the Mi'kmaq and other indigenous folks of the west coast that I had much humility and learning to make peace with.
And finally.... I drove across Canada, witnessing the beautiful lands and people, landing finally in Vancouver.
forgetting to remember
I renounced my role as a social worker and worked at bars, restaurants and other liquor/alcohol service establishments. Having forgotten how important yoga was, I relapsed and hid my blossoming femininity to fit in, surrounded by men who were denying their own femininity. After a few near-fatal experiences, I dove into my yoga practice and thus recovery.
The opiate crisis was worsening here in Vancouver. In 2017, while I cried into my 4th or 5th craft beer of the night -- someone reached out. An organization that was saving lives found its way to communicate through another's story that I was needed to do something to make a difference.
I began working in harm reduction with an organization that believed in the healing potential of so-called addicts, and fiercely stood against the fatal forces throwing highly-at-risk people to gruesome deaths.
finally awake... again?!
Reversing countless overdoses and grieving a million griefs... I was becoming mentally unsettled and I was a very long way from home.
The universe stepped in through a friend I hadn't met yet, and I was guided to a talk by Gabor Mate, who had incidentally served the same community I am now devoted to, and I woke up to as much reality as I could handle.
I had one last night out... then gave up getting drunk, and started a yoga teacher training at Karma Teachers, where I was held and supported by a community of others working to bring integration of the body and mind to the communities around them.
Having the clarity of sobriety and the dedicated practice of serving others in addiction and serving as a yoga teacher, I realized I had to come out in order to save more lives from suffering. And since we can only save our own lives --- my mess had to become my message as I stood in front of trans women getting abused with no one else to stand for them.
I dove into teaching passionately, doing training after training, being blessed by teachings of many dedicated teachers in the community. I learned that yoga saves just as many lives as harm reduction. And that harm reduction was, indeed, a high form of yoga when done with intention and purpose.
I was lead to daily prayers in the Mahayana Buddhist lineage, and memorized Chinese versions of the Shurangama Mantra, Great Compassion Mantra, 10 Small Mantras and the Heart Sutra. I also copied the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva after listening to a reading of it and crying aggressively, purging my own layered karma I wasn't aware I was even holding. Mantra became medicine, and I kept getting led to the right people, places and things, on the internet and in lived life alike. It seemed the Divine had gotten into the everything -- even the Internet!
I taught yoga for free, but wasn't ready to transition as I knew I needed to do. I worked with very desperate conditions and put off my own clarity to support others as best as I could -- I put off starting hormone replacement, thinking I could get along with just committing to sobriety and yoga. But the in-authenticity came at a huge cost, paid in lost opportunities to benefit the world I love so dearly.
transition to my mission
I forgot who I was, because I let others control my story little by little -- and this became painful.
Then in March 2019, I started hormone replacement. And suddenly... the deep dark void of sadness in my heart melted away.
I was also blessed with a mentorship at The Dharma Temple, and my teachers there supported me in connecting with the practices of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, as well as the Dharma Mittra lineage. And... they let me be My Self. Completely.
I received my new name late one night after tossing and turning in pain at 4:20am on March 20... my name finally found me after chanting it and hearing it for so many years while serving the vulnerable.
The robins who had sung me to the right path became clear... and my sense of Self came running in like it has been waiting a very long time for me to let go of the false-man I had constructed. In front of a campfire on a rainy Thursday night in April... suddenly I remembered who I was and what I came here to do.
I changed my name officially at the legal level and found mentorship with people who believed in me to use my knowledge of technology to serve the people walking one of the similar paths to me.
So here we are. It seems we found each other.
Make no mistake. This was meant to be -- because the stakes are so high right now that there just isn't space for anything else but dedication.
Thanks for being here. We couldn't be here with you.