This month’s amazing woman changing the world is Christianne Boudreau founder of Mothers for Life. Christianne was personally affected by the impact of radicalization processes in her own family. She gives her own time and experiences to support other families facing similar challenges.
Christianne shares her story while advising other mothers and policymakers on prevention and intervention strategies for violent radicalization while counselling other families.
Christianne coordinates the mother’s network “Mothers for Life” with Daniel Koehler, providing mothers of radicalized young people to give them a stronger voice globally.
What event in your childhood started your political journey?
I can’t say that it was one event in my childhood that started my political journey. In fact, I was always drawn to finding a peaceful balance for everyone. I did have a dream to buy a large ranch and collect all the unwanted children around the world to give them a safe and happy place to grow up. In my heart, I believe that the world would be a much better place if we could embrace our differences and get rid of every bit of violence, fear and anger that is out there. After going through all the life challenges that I have faced growing up and even as an adult, I realize that everything in our life is a choice. Either we can give up and stay miserable, or we can step outside of our comfort zone and push to stay positive and share love over fear.
Why do you want to change the world?
I have hope and faith that we can build a much stronger and peaceful place to live. Somewhere that we all get along and our future children can grow up smiling and actually having a childhood where they feel loved and able to follow their dreams. Everyone with a fair chance at the basic needs in life. Teaching everyone to grow to their full potential. I want to see the pain go away, the hunger and suffering a distant memory and show the world that humanity and hope still exist. I know it can be done. It’s just a matter of building each other up and opening up to all differences rather than tearing it down to make ourselves feel safer.
What are you doing to change the world?
I try to live my life as positive as I can without judgment of others. It’s not always easy because I am human first and foremost and with that comes many faults. In opportunities that I have been fortunate to have, I speak to others about remembering that we are all human, and we are all not perfect and to try and remember this when connecting with others. I encourage everyone to reach out and step outside of their comfort zone and take the time to learn more than what we just see on the surface. Unless we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, it is difficult for us to understand.
While being fortunate enough to be able to share this message, I also truly believe that it is important that each and every one of us takes the time to reach out to others. We need to take the time to help when we can. Life is very busy, but if we all took a few hours a week to spend helping others, it can create a ripple effect. Living by example is important for me as a role model for my children as well so I try and show them patience and compassion by letting them see when I take the time to work with a family, even if it’s just an ear or a shoulder. Sometimes that is all we need. Someone to hear us and take the time to connect.
What hurdles have you had to face?
This is a tough one. We all have many hurdles and it’s a matter of perspective. Speaking for myself personally, I have experienced sexual abuse at a very young age, attempted suicide in my teens, went through extreme bullying in school, failed marriages, survived domestic abuse, and have lost two children. There were times when I thought I wasn’t going to make it through another day. Sometimes I didn’t want to wake up the following morning. Then, something changed. I realized I had to choose to live and make a difference or everything that I went through was for nothing.
What would you say to policymakers?
I would love to get in a room alone with them. Sit down with each one for a one on one conversation. Our policymakers have sadly disconnected from reality and community. They make their decisions and write their policies based on what they’ve learned in textbooks and based on politics and staying within the “system” which is run by politicians that are looking for votes in the next election. Everything tends to be so near-sighted and missing the human connection and aspect that is so important. Likely because they want to keep their jobs and stepping outside of the expected “norm” would be risky. Policies turn into layers upon layers trying to correct or patch the ones underneath them. Chasing their tails instead of really taking the time to realize the impact that they can have in changing the direction of the world. They have become desensitized to humanity and the importance of their work, and no one has the courage to push the envelope and stand up for what is right.
What would you say to your younger self if she were growing up in this era?
Don’t do it. Run away and find a secluded island to live away from everything. Somewhere warm and sunny at the best of times. I really don’t like the snow. No, honestly, I think I would have had a long tough talk to myself telling me to reach for the stars instead of holding back out of fear. Working towards everything I believed in and building my self-confidence rather than worrying about what everyone else thought. I held back on a lot of beliefs in order to fit into what I thought society expected of me rather than what my heart told me. I would give myself that pep talk to shed those fears and realize that those people who truly care about me just wanted me to be happy not live up to imagined expectations.
What is your final message to young people?
Be true to yourself. Just be you. Don’t be afraid of who you are inside. Be proud. Work towards your dreams no matter how big they are, but always remember you are human and are no different than the person standing next to you on the inside. Life experiences may shape you, but your heart is what can drive you. Be honest with yourself instead of pretending. Accept and love without fear as you would want someone to love and accept you. Live each day as if it is your last. Shape your life as the legacy you want to be remembered for. Stand on top of your fear and conquer it and don’t let it conquer you. Reaching out for help when you need it doesn’t mean you are weak, in fact, it is a sign that you are strong.
Alhambra Women’s Network
Alhambra Women’s Network and Asian Mums Network Project. We aim to:
- Shine a light on the great work women do
- Be great role models for the next generation
- Ensure our legacy and contribution to society are part of the history books
- Show young people both girls and boys there is always a way to change the world peacefully
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