“This is a community that has proven to be stable even during uncertain times,” she said. “I love the family-oriented feel of the community.” (Photo supplied/Manon Joice)
“This is a community that has proven to be stable even during uncertain times,” she said. “I love the family-oriented feel of the community.” (Photo supplied/Manon Joice)

“This is a community that has proven to be stable even during uncertain times,” she said. “I love the family-oriented feel of the community.” (Photo supplied/Manon Joice) “This is a community that has proven to be stable even during uncertain times,” she said. “I love the family-oriented feel of the community.” (Photo supplied/Manon Joice)

‘We all have a hero’s journey and our job is to triumph over our tragedies’

In Our Valley: Manon Joice

Manon Joice, 51, was born in Cornwall Ont., and remained there until her early 20s. It was a town that she enjoyed as it had a lot to offer.

“Cornwall, Ontario was a wonderful community, it is very near to Ottawa and Montreal,” said Joice. “It’s right on the U.S. border.”

Joice was the youngest of seven children and at a young age she suffered a tragic loss.

“The most profound experience is that I was raised as a motherless daughter,” said Joice. “My mother had died when I was young and I think that shaped me quite a bit.”

Joice began working at the age of 14 and from there would work a variety of jobs through high school. Even though she always found herself working through high school she still managed to maintain good academic standing.

“I was kind of like a nerd in high school so I graduated high school about a year early and I was always one of those kids that were tested to see if you would skip a grade,” said Joice.

During her time in high school, she also met now-husband Lawrence Joice. At the time Joice was working most weekends. However, she was quitting one of her jobs and had a weekend off and she had been invited to a dance. It was there she met the love of her life and was married at 18, prior to attending college.

After considering law school, Joice decided to pursue nursing and entered St. Lawrence College in Cornwall. Following graduation, she remained in Cornwall for a number of years before moving to Winnipeg.

Once in Winnipeg she discovered that her two-year registered nursing course was not recognized in Manitoba. She ended up working as a licensed practical nurse with what was called “added skills”.

The move to Winnipeg was the first of many for Joice and this was also where she took a step away from nursing. The young family welcomed son, Brandon, causing Joice to step away from her career to raise her son.

Lawrence did safety assignments in the gas and oil industry at the time, leading the family to Elk Point, Alberta. Prior to opening up her first business Joice was writing a lot and trying to determine where her future was going. It was at this time she found herself reconnecting with religion.

“I started to write down the names of everybody that I really admired, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mother Teresa,” she said.

Joice was trying to find what they had in common and then realized they all believed in a higher power.

Once in Alberta, Joice opened her first business, a flower shop called Stems and Stuff which won a business of the year award from the chamber of commerce in Elk Point. She continued writing and became a contributor to the Elk Point newspaper.

After a few years, the family was on the move again, this time to Lloydminster, Alberta. The family moved as Lawrence found work across Canada working in oil & gas.

Her experience running her own business helped her get into sales where she first began in radio before making the move into TV.

“That allowed me the opportunity with some really amazing business people, even though I was consulting with them as their consulting and marketing person,” said Joice. “It really allowed me the opportunity that when I work with a client to hear their story.”

She made the move once again this time heading a little further west into B.C.’s Peace region, more specifically Fort St. John where Joice returned to health care.

“I was looking back into health care, it was something that I had missed and it was such a wonderful opportunity I was offered and accepted a position as the BC Cancer Agency prevention coordinator for the entire Northeast region of B.C.,” said Joice.

She was first hired as a contractor with the agency before accepting the position of cancer prevention coordinator. This jump back into health care, along with her new role gave her the opportunity to examine research in the related field.

While working as the cancer prevention coordinator Joice attended Athabasca University, a virtual institution, and completed a few courses in population health and preventative medicine. Joice once again found herself busy as she spent five years as a business coach at the Northeast Aboriginal Business Centre.

At the centre, Joice heard about the dreams of small business clients and entrepreneurs and it wouldn’t be long after until she finally realized one of her own dreams.

“I attended a conference that really encouraged me to pursue some of my own dreams and one of the things I ended up doing was publishing a book of poetry called Words Inspired Imagined and Revealed,” she said. Having already some experience writing news articles she felt she had a unique writing style due to her French background.

She enjoyed her time in Fort St. John but like much of her life she once again found herself on the move, this time to Rycroft, Alberta.

While there she went off in a different professional direction, taking on the role of deputy mayor of the small village.

Joice wanted to make a difference in the community and help represent the voices and views of the local residents. She and the rest of council worked diligently in collaboration with neighbouring communities to overcome issues that the village faced.

She describes one of her greatest accomplishments being a medical clinic that five local communities built together.

“What I found striking was the ease to get it built. It seemed as though once our five communities would meet, as soon as we put people first, the decisions just came easy,” said Joice.

The only regret that Joice had of her time in Rycroft was that she did not get to see the clinic built, leaving to a new city the day shovels were being put into the ground.

That city was Terrace where she took on the job at the University of Northern B.C. as the program coordinator for the Northern Medical Program Integrated Clerkship & UBC FM Residency Program.

But then it was time to move again, this time she and Lawrence travelled down Hwy 37 to Kitimat.

Joice has a lot of admiration for the northern B.C. town and has enjoyed a warm welcome from the community.

“This is a community that has proven to be stable even during uncertain times,” she said. “I love the family-oriented feel of the community.”

She missed the work she did at the business centre and opened her own business, Skeena Coaching.

“I would say my area of expertise is business development writing, so I do business plan writing, I do feasibility study plan writing and I do some grant writing,” said Joice in addition to coaching.

Previously Joice attended Erickson College for the Art and Science of Coaching. Most recently she has completed a specialty course through the University of Michigan on the Impacts of the Environment on Global Public Health.

Her coaching business does have a faith-based aspect to it as she believes if people use faith to get through challenges easier then they should embrace that. Her enjoyment of writing has also influenced her coaching style as she believes everyone has a hero’s journey. She believes that everyone is going through a hero’s journey and it is about understanding and recognizing this call to adventure.

“We each have a story and every hero’s journey ever written emerges from pain and suffering.” Joice writes on her website. “Our mission is to triumph over our tragedies, and this, the lesson for us all.”

For Joice the journey continues however Kitimat may be the town in she finally retires.

“This is my retirement place, I want to be a community champion,” she said.