Leading with love for all

Laura Stovel is an environmental and social issues activist, a writer and a frontline worker

~ Sobia Moman

Advocating for others is at the heart of everything that Laura Stovel does.

Stovel is a frontline worker at the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter. She helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence and are fleeing their homes.

“Every woman is on her own journey. Sometimes they need help getting identification or help finding a new place to live. Maybe they just need a place for a while to figure out their next step and we give them that,” she said.

Stovel doesn’t always know what happens to the women after they leave the shelter. They have the option to reach back out for more help or to give an update, but not all women will choose to do so.

Living and studying in African countries such as Botswana, Sierra Leone and Mozambique was an unforgettable part of Stovel’s time in academics.

Stovel was following along with the truth commission as a researcher after the Sierra Leone civil war. She had the opportunity to speak directly to the people that were affected. Her time in Sierra Leone was so impactful that she decided to write one of her four books on the post-war process of the country.

“War brings out the worst and the best in people. In Sierra Leone, people had their arms chopped off by the rebels and they would thank God because they were alive and other people weren’t,” Stovel said.

The stories that she heard were heartbreaking and tragic, but also inspiring to her. There was a saying that the Sierra Leone people would say after the war, “There’s no bad bush to throw away a bad child.”

Children were abducted by both sides during the war and forced into the army. Eventually, the ones who survived had to return to their villages that they were just forced to destroy. The people of the nation told Stovel that they would accept back any and everybody because they wanted peace above anything else.

“It’s not about me at all, it’s about them,” Stovel said. “I was just really so impressed by the courage of the people that I met. I was in awe of their perspective on what had happened to them.”

She was also one of the people involved in the creation of the Indigenous Friendship Society in Revelstoke and served on its board. Before the organization was established, there were only committees available in schools for Indigenous people to receive support.

“We needed more, this was not enough,” Stovel said.

Having women leaders is very important to Stovel, but she advocates for inclusivity to go beyond gender.

“It’s very important to have diversity of people in leadership roles and especially underrepresented people. We need more recognition of Indigenous and people of colour leaders,” Stovel said.

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