After many years of working in senior leadership roles with Abegweit First Nation, Jenene Wooldridge became the Executive Director of L’nuey, the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative, in October of 2019. With less than six months before the pandemic began, Jenene’s foundational leadership allowed her team to grow and flourish throughout the past two years. “I hope we are all learning from the pandemic to do it differently and how to cultivate cultures of wholeness and wellness with ourselves, our families, and our teams,” she shares.
“We had no choice but to quickly learn to adapt to change when the pandemic started, and we saw many social justice movements rise up during that time as well.” During this time of uprising and change, many of us were feeling the pressures and the burdens on individual and collective levels. By the Christmas season of 2020, Jenene was finding herself a bit burned out.
“I knew I needed to listen to my body, but I resisted having down time. Before the pandemic, I started to harness the power of down time and now I really know the importance of sitting in silence and stillness. It was time to stop resisting who I was and show up as my authentic self. I had slipped into a routine and so much of the day-to-day became autopilot. I needed to focus on myself and drown out the distractions.”
When she stopped resisting, she was able to clearly see what she needed to do next. “I had no idea I was going to make a book and then it just all flowed through me, and I drafted the framework in three days.”
Jenene is the author of Living Full Circle which is an undated planner about living with balance and intention. Jenene draws on her Mi’kmaq culture and incorporates medicine wheel teachings in the planner. (Side note: I’ve been supporting Indigenous women entrepreneurs who make planners for the better part of a decade, so I was quick to get my copy of Jenene’s at the end of 2021.)
Living Full Circle is in and of itself a beautiful example of authenticity and reciprocity. Jenene generously shares what she has learned and what works for her. Knowing that we all operate differently, Jenene says that she encourages people to “take what they like and leave the rest. It’s about finding what works for you.”
Work-life balance didn’t come up in our conversation in the conventional ways people may assume it did. In fact, any time I mentioned applying specific principles and practices in our work life, Jenene reminded me that her work self is not separate from her family self or any other part of self. We are whole beings. “I’m the same person at work as I am at home as I am when I take my daughter to dance. I have many different roles but all of them comprise my one whole self.”
Living Full Circle isn’t just the name of Jenene’s planner, “it is a way of living and a way of being.”
In this way of living and being, Jenene says she is passionate about learning how to live in the moment.
“Presence is an incredible gift that we can give to ourselves and our loved ones every day.”
As she practices living in the moment, Jenene’s dedication to her community has not wavered. She is instrumental in advancing the interests of the Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq and all Epekwitnewaq (Islanders).
Though she didn’t mention much about her achievements and accolades, she has many to her credit. Notably, she was named one of the top 25 most powerful women in business by Atlantic Business Magazine in 2021 and she recently completed the ICD-Rotman Directors Education Program and obtained ICD.D designation.
She also collaborates with others to offer All In! Allyship and Inclusion Training which supports leaders and change-makers to develop identity and bias awareness, finely tune their words and strategies, and be ready for opportunities to create conversations that matter. Jenene walks the talk and shows up fully and wholeheartedly in all she does, and all that starts with presence and sharing our stories.
“Sharing our stories is one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves and for the world. We just also need to take extra care of ourselves when we share so that we can continue to live full circle.”