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Mentorship Matters: Remembering Janice Sarich

Three years ago, I wrote this piece in memory of my mentor and friend, Janice Sarich, who passed away on February 26, 2021. Janice and I were matched as mentor and protégé through interVivos in Spring 2018.

On this third anniversary of her passing, this piece is being shared more widely by me and interVivos in remembrance of Janice and her legacy as aninterVivos mentor and otherwise. 

Janice has now been gone for three years, a longer time than we were able to spend together in this life. Yet, as I read what I wrote three years ago, each word about her and her impact still remains just as true as when it was written. This serves as a reminder for me, and for others, of the lasting impact that mentorship can make and that mentorship matters. It is a reminder that the investments we make in people are always worth it, and are one of the very few things that will always remain, even when we are gone.

Janice and Melissa at the Mentorship Launch where they met for the first time.

Original Piece (Published on LinkedIn March 4, 2021):

It has been difficult to find words following the passing of Janice Sarich on February 26, 2021. Janice was my mentor, and so much more than that.

In May 2018, Janice and I were matched through a local Edmonton-based mentorship program called interVivos. From the beginning, we both knew interVivos had made the perfect match, and that we were meant to journey together.

Janice brought to our mentorship intentionality, enthusiasm and an approach to mentorship that held nothing back. The first time that we met, she offered to continue meeting with me as frequently as I was prepared to, and beyond her formal interVivos mentorship program commitment. Honoured and excited, I took her up on that offer.

Janice demonstrated her care and investment in me as a mentor from the outset. She believed in me, and made sure I knew it. She was committed and invested in my success. She opened up to me about her life, and took a genuine interest in mine. She fostered my personal and professional development by asking intentional and meaningful questions. She shared with me the lessons she had learned in business, politics, entrepreneurship and life as a woman and female leader, with the intent of supporting me in my own journey as a female leader and future entrepreneur. She challenged and supported me to see myself and my work in the world in a new ways, and to make some important changes. Some of the central aspects of who Janice and I both are – including our passion for lifelong learning, our commitment to ongoing personal transformation, our investment in community and our focus on women’s leadership – were huge parts of our mentorship relationship and friendship. I learned so much from her in these areas and beyond.

Janice offered so much more than advising and supporting my professional and leadership development. In 2018 and beyond - well past the formal interVivos mentorship program - Janice was there. We were involved in one another's lives and supported one another, sharing our triumphs, our defeats, and our learnings. We shared updates on our lives and celebrated one another's progress. She supported my continual development. During difficult times for me, she was present and involved, always offering hope and brilliant perspective. During health challenges, she was a cheerleader and encouraged me to put myself and my health first. Her encouragement and perspective, coming from her own life learning, helped me to solidify my value of 'health first' and to only continue to deepen my resilience and vision.

Janice and Melissa at an interVivos mixer.

Janice is someone who redefined mentorship, and what it means to be a mentor. She created impact as a mentor by being available, sharing openly, involving me in her life, being involved in my life, showing up when it mattered most, and loving me. By offering her full self, her full commitment to mentorship, and her full commitment to me, she infused mentorship with power and possibility.

Janice has been a constant source of inspiration for me, as a mentor, as a woman, as a leader, and as a person. She was unrelentingly devoted, purposeful, caring, compassionate, inspired, inspiring and motivated. She was truly a remarkable and beautiful person. Janice was a visionary through-and-through, and was both a dreamer and a doer. She never sat on inspiration and refused to wait for an illusory "right time" to live out her dreams. She was very action-oriented, taking her own words to heart and turning inspiration into action within short periods of time. She lived her own words - words that were central to her life and business - and those were: “it begins with you.” She encouraged everyone around her - including me - to remember that anything we want in life begins with us, our daily choices, and our daily actions.

Janice was a very strong woman, a leader, and a powerhouse. She never let anything overcome her, and always kept a positive outlook and perspective in any situation. She lived with conviction, and with intention. She believed in societal transformation and in serving the community. She constantly sought out opportunities to improve the lives of others. She believed in the ongoing personal transformation of herself and others, and lived her daily life in a way that was open to creativity, inspiration and self reflection. She lived with passion and purpose. She lived in a way that created immense, immeasurable impact on countless lives, both directly and indirectly. I learned so much from Janice, from who she was, and from how she lived her life.

Janice was much more than a mentor. She was a friend and a guide, a confidant. I always envisioned her being someone who would journey with me well in to the future stages of my life, and never questioned that this would be so. There were countless conversations to be had. There were countless events and milestones, both hers and mine, that I knew we would be part of for one another. There was so much more to talk about, to laugh about, to learn, and to share. Although that vision now needs to be surrendered, and it's an unexpected time of immense loss - especially for her family - I'm deeply grateful for the three years she was in my life. In only three years, Janice's impact was profound. 

Like Janice, I too will mentor. As I mentor, I will think of Janice, and from the depths of my heart, I will strive to mentor in a way that honours her, her legacy, and all she invested in me. I want to walk alongside future protégés and invest in lives in the way that Janice invested in mine, knowing that mentorship changes lives.

Janice’s impact and the investment she has made - in me and countless others - will continue to ripple out and transform lives. To close, in Janice's own words, which she inscribed in a book for me: "Find your joy and live it!"

A bit about the author:

Melissa Scott is a Métis-Cree woman from Treaty 6 in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton). She is an Indigenous health researcher and educator, with the focus of her life and work being Indigenous health, wellbeing and healing. Melissa is an Indigenous health Research Associate at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine and at Athabasca University, she teaches the Counselling with Indigenous Women and Aboriginal Women in Canada courses.     


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