Sickle Cell Foundation of Alberta, SCFA
Sickle Cell Foundation of Alberta, SCFA
President of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Alberta, SCFA
My name is Jean Walrond Ph. D., and I am a Sickle Cell Anemia Nurturer and a Sickle Cell Warrior. I am also the president of Sickle Cell Foundation of Alberta. I encountered Sickle Cell Anemia when I lived in Montreal. Knowing that my fiancé had the trait, I had myself tested for it prior to being married. The results came back negative. When our second daughter first started to complain about joint pains at two years of age, we treated it with baby aspirin and massaged the areas. This worked but the pains usually returned in about two months. It was then that I asked my husband about his sister’s pains, and he said that these usually occurred in her joints and back. I then suggested that he take our daughter to Halifax Children’s Hospital to be tested. Her pediatrician arranged the appointment. I still remember the day I was told that the tests were positive. I let out several screams because I realized that if she had sickle cell anemia then my test result was a false negative. After crying my eyes out, I made a personal decision to step up my efforts to ensure that my children self-actualized. In short, every move I made through life was to accomplish this feat.
I came to Canada in 1968 to attend Concordia University, Montreal, where I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in statistics and economics. In 1975 my family and I moved to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where we lived on a campsite for four years. As someone who was raised among strong women who always volunteered in their community, I understood the importance of community work, so I started a playschool for the preschoolers at the camp. This early activity allowed me to be close to my girls and to ensure they got the best country Canada experience the campsite offered. Following the stint in Nova Scotia we were transferred to Edmonton, Alberta. As my husband now worked away from home, I made the decision to live 10 minutes from out nearest hospital. In my quest for their self-actualization, I joined girl guides with them and became their Girl Guide leader and a certified camper. When they wanted to do ballet, I volunteered to sew the costumes. I enrolled them in French schools, music lessons, and supported them in their other extracurricular activities. I did these activities while working full time in banking for fifteen years. I did not know it at the time but now I truly believe that my aunts were imprinting volunteerism in me. I continued to volunteer at university, with the city of Edmonton and in my Caribbean community.
My daughter still got ill, and I was grateful to the babysitter I had who would take care of her when she was ill. There were many challenges and on reflection I know now that those years were very stressful for me.
When my girls were teenagers, in continuing my quest for their development I decided to resign from my banking position and return to university to demystify the post-secondary educational process. It was a blessing because I was able to model to my girls what it is like to pursue goals. Little did I know that there was also an unintended consequence associated with my drive? I earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in Human Ecology from University of Alberta. These two degrees gave me a better understanding of the ways in which individuals construct their identity, how they construct their world and in turn how these world structures impact them. These were the issues and challenges I was seeking answers to from the time I discovered that my child had Sickle Cell Anemia. My two girls joined university after I started; and they graduated and left me there. Finding that my inquiry was leading me to delve further into the area of policy development, research, and education I continued in the Department of Education Policy Studies where I earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree on completion. My fifteen years of teaching experience along with a similar number of years doing research are ideal now as I seek to teach and learn more about Sickle Cell Anemia.
My journey started in 1968 at Concordia University Montreal, continued in banking, was enhanced in volunteerism, and eventually was grounded in research and education. These experiences have given me the confidence and skills that I feel are necessary to be president of Sickle Cell Foundation of Alberta. I succeeded in raising two remarkable girls; the elder is a teacher at a private school in Edmonton and my warrior who continues to amaze me earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, is a realtor®, has a little boy and is studying culinary arts at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology