Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Janet continues her grandfather’s legacy in Canada to motivate others

Published:Saturday | October 31, 2015 | 10:00 AMTamara Bailey
Janet Campbell has been living in Canada for years but has ensured her Jamaican heritage influences her work there.
Janet Campbell
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As a child who grew up with her grandparents, Janet Campbell relished the opportunity to sit at the feet of her grandfather and the elders in her community while they regaled everyone with stories of both fact and fiction.

After his passing, she was filled with gloom. So, too, were the other children who knew her grandfather.

Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy, but Campbell knew she had to carry on the task of spreading a spirit of hope through the art of storytelling.

"I was not ready to accept that my father figure who raised me was gone. The loss was significant and the grief was intense. It was even more difficult for me when I was reunited with my mom, who had migrated to Canada. She was like a stranger to me and it was hard to adjust to [a new] lifestyle. It took a toll on me," said Campbell who migrated to Canada five years, after her grandfather died.

With the death of her grandfather, early separation from her mother and no knowledge of her father's identity until age 16, Campbell found herself telling stories of her grandfather to others and nothing was more therapeutic for her and those who heard her.

TRADITION

"It took some time, but I slowly realised that I am a storyteller and that Papa had prepared me to be just that. I am consciously aware now that Papa knew he was leaving a tradition with me to carry on. The feeling that those stories were never enough and my wishes for different endings led to me creating my own stories."

She added, "Before this realisation, I suffered [from] anxiety and depression. My grandmother, my mother and other relatives were concerned. I went to counselling, took medication, but nothing worked. I wanted to die, too. My grandmother would pray for me, and encouraged me to pray to God to help me to overcome my situation."

Campbell recalled that as she slept one night, her grandfather appeared to her a dream and told her to pray.

"I got up instantly, knelt down at the side of my bed and began to talk to God. I did not hear a literal voice, but God spoke to my heart. That night, I understood what my purpose was, and to this day, I am still telling stories - mostly in the schools and at community events. I am also the author of two children's books - Kafiya Meets the Moon and Purpose Finds His Gift."

TOUCHING LIVES

Through sharing her stories, Campbell said she has been able to help build connections and touch lives.

"I try to see the best in people and try to raise consciousness by standing in my own truth. I believe that everyone is here on this earth for a purpose. I can't ensure that I can help uplift everyone, but by the grace of God, I can surely try to, one by one."

Guided by the principles of love, a relationship with God and showing gratitude, Campbell continues to embrace the freedom to change her life and that of others without being crippled by fear.

"Knowing each moment allows me the opportunity to learn and to grow ... knowing that our experiences are gifts - they shape our lives, and grow our minds; we evolve to a new level of consciousness. How comforting it is to be aware that God gave us wisdom and understanding to know if we are ever at a place in life that does not serve our highest self, we have the ability to change," she concluded.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com