I am the first child and only daughter of Joe Callihoo from the Michele Band and Mildred Arcand from Alexander First Nations. The Michele Band was disbanded if you will decades ago and is now the bustling town of Calahoo. My father’s father passed away from complications of the liver due to alcoholism when my dad was only 16 years old which explained a lot. My grandmother tried her best to raise my father on her own. Also, my father was adopted, this information made a lot of sense in why I am the way I am. My mother married my father to get away from a very large family unit on the reserve. Apparently she was the black sheep of the family. Alcohol and prescription drugs soon became her escape from a loveless marriage. We moved away from the country into the city which created a separation from my family on the reserve, I was odd to them? Later I learned that they saw me as “fearless”? If only they knew how afraid I really was. We lived in the city of Edmonton most of my life. I learned very young what racism was and bullying. I grew up being meek and afraid all of the time to becoming a bully and an addict at the age of 12. I had found a friend and confidante in alcohol and drugs. They allowed me to have a voice! I was invincible! This went on for many, many years. My mother was diagnosed with Cancer of the lymphnodes in 1990. She passed away October 24, 1992 but not before she had successfully found herself and had finally completed loved herself. I am lucky that I am the oldest and only daughter because I was who she choose to take with her on her journey of self discovery. I started going with her to sweats and ceremonies when I was 12 years old. It didn’t stop me from making my own mark in the addiction world though. My active addiction was a part of my life until I turned 44. In the 32 years that I was trying unsuccessfully to escape from my unhappy life I experienced an awful lot. This is why today I am so compassionate and empathetic to those around me. I am eternally grateful to my beautiful mother Crow Woman for seeing that my culture would be what kept me from killing myself in the end. Like I said I am the oldest girl of 3 siblings. I have 3 younger brothers whom by the way are still active in their addictions. My father and I have a good relationship now. I still have some work to do in these relationships. I realized that I have taken over my mothers role. I am not my mother. I am a beautiful 50 year old mother of 3 sons, grandmother of 2 beautiful grandchildren and the only daughter of Joe Callihoo. I am content in the fact that this wonderful journey of life is a continuum and I love it!
At the age of 44 I decided that I had enough of the life of drugs and alcohol. I knew the process of getting clean all to well. I had tried unsuccessfully many times before. I checked myself into detox and from there I got ahold of NNADAP in Alexander and went to Poundmakers lodge for 42 days. Afterwards I registered into Heart Spirit House and attended the programming there for 6 months. On the way from the program I stopped with a friend at YTC so he could register for the fall courses. I was there so I thought what the heck, I’ll look at the Fall calendar. I ended up registering for the Aboriginal Child and Family Services Social Work program. I got in? I remember my convocation…I was in the back seat of the car with my 2 aunts and my uncle. My aunties had taken over the role of my mother which was traditional and my uncle was my spiritual advisor and probably my biggest fan. I was opening up graduation gifts from them all and I started sobbing. I had never left this before? Pure pride and accomplishment. My life was now going to start.
I started working at the Footprints Healing Lodge in the summer of 2012 and just stayed. It is a 42 day in residence treatment centre. I gained a lot of insight there. What to do and what not to do with and for people who are trying to heal their hurts. One evening when I was on shift I got a call from Linda Borle, she informed me that there was a position opening up and she felt that I would do good in it. I applied, was interviewed and later was hired. The rest they say is history.
Sherri Ann Callihoo
50 years old
Birthdate: May 14, 1965
Born at the Misercordia Hospital in Edmonton, AB
Have 3 younger brothers
2 beautiful grandchildren. Owen 8 years old and Miley 2 years old
Sobriety birthday: September 19, 2009
ACFS Diploma from Keyano College.
Proud band member of the Alexander First Nations.