As the sun rises on International Women’s Day this year, we wanted to take a moment to highlight two phenomenal 211 community navigators. Each time they pick up the phone, they make sure the person on the other line finds the resources they need, when they need them most. Life can be hard, but finding help no longer needs to be thanks to their incredible work. Angele-Anne Vautour and Sylvie Lirette – thank you for all that you are, for all that you bring, and for all that you do, day in and day out.
I grew up in a small community and I had to work hard to go to university, to get a government job, to pursue my dreams. I’ve worked as a youth care worker, a needs assessor and a case manager for many years, and I’ve now found my home with 211.
I think one of the biggest things I hope for, is that we’re able to recognise ourselves for the strong women we are and for the difference we make in our community. International Women’s Day is a beautiful moment to stop and reflect on how we’ve supported each other, how we’ve empowered each other, and how we can keep doing that, better and better. It’s a moment of celebration, and it shows us that anything is possible if we want it.
My favourite quote comes from John Lennon:
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
Working with the community, working with people, navigating school and then my career, there was always a huge emphasis on what I’m going to do, on planning ahead, but life happens so fast. There are other values that are important too like being happy in what you’re doing and feeling connected to the people around you. I wish someone told me that when I was younger.
It’s interesting when I reflect back. My community spirit and the work I was doing from a young age went well beyond my studies, and I was able to build strong relationships and that helped weave my career to where it is today. And I hope that younger women going for interviews understand that they are more than what they studied, that they’re far more than what they are on paper. And that they can recognise their own strengths and unique qualities, and really own them.
And I think that’s a lesson that serves us well as we wear and juggle more hats. Among many things, I’m a mom, a daughter, a Home Economist, a Community Navigator, a friend. And through it all, I’ve learned to forgive myself and to take care of myself before I take care of others. And now, with 211, we don’t have to search for help by ourselves anymore. We don’t need to call number after number to find support. We can find all the resources you need by calling one number only – 2-1-1 – and that’s a beautiful thing.
As women, we’re strong, and believing in ourselves is really important. Believing in our capacity and in our spirit – that’s how we get through whatever life throws our way.
My favourite quote is ‘When there’s a will there’s a way,’ because when you want something, believe in something, act on something, there’s always a solution, an outcome, a way forward. And that’s how I’ve approached life.
I grew up in Caraquet and moved to Ottawa to study occupational therapy. It led me back to New Brunswick to work in mental health, then on to a master’s in social work. I’ve volunteered at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and Red Cross’ friendly callers’ program and spent years doing community work. These experiences really developed an awareness within. I love helping people, really listening to them, and helping them find solutions, and I decided to follow that path, and it’s all lead me here, to 211.
I’m a daughter, friend, community navigator, social worker, partner, wife, neighbour, confident, listener, but I’m so much more than that as well. I’m a person who really lives in the moment. When I’m working I’m working, but when I’m with a friend, I’m a friend, and that helps ease the weight that those titles can bring. And as I interact with women everyday – colleagues, friends, family, women who call in – I’m always in awe of our collective strength and resiliency.
My hope for each of us would be to know that we’re always stronger than we believe, that we can overcome challenges that we think we can’t, and that in the times we don’t quite know where to turn, 211 is there to help. We will connect you to services, we will help you find the resources you need, and we’ll do it together.
211 is a free, confidential service that connects people quickly to critical government, social, and community support. When you don’t know where to turn, help starts at 211.