Mamiko’s Story

October 11-17, 2021 is CONNECT to COMMUNITY Week in the Bow Valley, presented by Bow Valley Immigration Partnership. In celebration of this week we were able to connect with 25-year resident of the Bow Valley – Mamiko, who shared the story of raising her family here and how they were supported by many local services that ultimately lead them to build a deep connection and give back.

After their father left, I was feeling ok for the new start. But I worried for my girls. It was great to talk to the social worker at the Town of Banff, and we learned about all of the Mental Health resources. Thanks to Community Services in Banff, my girls had a few one-on-one meetings, and they made sure that my girls were doing ok.

It was nice to have walk-in mental health services at the hospital. When you can believe someone wants to help you, there’s nothing to worry about. Everyone listened to my stories and kindly helped me and my girls to move forward. I had countless positive experiences by asking for help. In Japan, people don’t talk about mental health much.

I was afraid to share what happened to my family first, but it helped me understand what was out of my control. I started to understand myself more than ever by talking to the most generous people. My awareness of living a better life got sharper and sharper, and I was more organized and learned so much about myself. Even though dad was missing from our family, this community was a big family, and my daughters never felt that we were an incomplete family. If we lived in a big city, it would have been hard to live without feeling left out. It was great that everyone knew my girls and watched out for them in the beautiful small mountain town.

Sense of belonging makes you feel grounded. Volunteering is one of the best and fun things to do as a family. It was wonderful connecting with helpful and kind people in the community, and we felt uplifting big family vibes. We enjoyed helping Melissa Road race, Subaru Triathlon, and Banff Marathon for years.

This September, my older daughter Miki’s friend visited Banff on the way to her new job location in B.C. It was great to see them volunteering for Towards Zero Waste station at Banff Marathon.

Luna, my younger daughter, left for University in 2017 but came back in March 2020 due to COVID-19. As she wanted to do something for the community, she launched Banff Isn’t Disposable as a part of an 8-month capstone design project at the University of Waterloo. It was great to watch her putting her heart into the research, programming and diverted hundreds of disposable containers from the waste stream.

I’ve been volunteering at the Banff Food Rescue since the pandemic hit hard. Last year was super busy, and we are more organized and easy to sign up for volunteering. Alanna is doing inspiring work, and I make sure I sign up to help because we are rescuing food and helping people.

The community has given us so much, we are living our life with so much appreciation. And we are trying to give back whenever we can.