Building Friendships

January 18, 2016

I was 7 or 8 when my mom first signed me up to be matched with a big sister. Considering my situation, I always felt lucky to have the mom I do. My mom did everything she could to give my two sisters and me a “normal” life.

My involvement with Big Brothers and Big Sisters started quite a few years ago. I was 7 or 8 when my mom first signed me up to be matched with a Big Sister. Considering my situation, I always felt lucky to have the mom I do. My mom did everything she could to give my two sisters and I a “normal” life. We were always involved in extra-curricular activities at school and fun activities in the community. At the time, none of us were even aware we were barely making ends meat. I had no idea growing up that we were financially poor.

My dad was pretty much out of the picture when I was about 5. At home were my mom, me, and my two younger sisters. My mom worked while we were in school, and was always home with us in the evening. With our best interests in mind, my mom enrolled us all in the big sisters program. While she was an amazing role model for all of us, it was a perfect opportunity to give us each another positive mentor in our lives.

It was at this point I was introduced to my big sister, Marion. I don’t remember having too many hesitations about having a big sister. I had no expectations, but I do remember being really excited about being able to go out alone…without my sisters! Coming from a single-parent home didn’t give me much one-on-one time with anyone. Marion welcomed me into her life with open arms. There was almost an immediate level of comfort with us. While we didn’t know each other, I felt comfortable telling her about me. Marion never let me down, and I am forever thankful for that.

When Marion and I were matched, she wasn’t married and had no children. I felt so lucky to have her to lean on. It’s amazing the difference it makes for a child to have an adult focus all their attention on them. We shared many great memories together. What started off as a simple adult-child relationship, turned into a lifelong friendship. We learned that family doesn’t always mean bloodlines.

I was lucky to have been there to celebrate her two sons and her wedding to her husband Terry. I remember when we moved to Quesnel for a few months, I wasn’t able to make it down for her wedding ceremony. I was devastated. After 5 years, she’d never let me down…and here I was stuck in Quesnel with no possible way of making it to her wedding. I cried and cried and cried. She knew how upset I was that I couldn’t make it…she called me the morning of her wedding to reassure me that everything was ok, and not to be upset. Things come up and we’d celebrate another time. What bride takes the time out of their special day to call someone who isn’t making it to their wedding? After getting off the phone with her, I felt like a million bucks.

We knew that when we graduated from the Big Sisters program, which happens with the little turns 18, we knew that it wasn’t the end…it was merely the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. Since then Marion and I don’t talk all the time, but when we find the time…we always catch up. We live in two completely different areas and both have busy lives to live. When something important is taking place in our lives – we always make the best effort to get together in person. I was especially excited to have her come to the mainland for my wedding reception in November 2007. Her whole family came over…and when we see each other, it’s like we haven’t been separated for 6 or 8 months. I love seeing her.

I decided at about 12 or 13 that one day, I too would be a big sister. I wanted to be able to give another girl exactly what Marion gave me – a friend, a mentor, and a leader. I thrive on being a positive person and want nothing more but to pass my views on life on to someone who may need some encouragement.

About a month ago, I was matched with my little sister Alicia. We’ve only gotten together a few times since our match, but things are going great. She’s an eager girl, excited about life, and very outgoing. She comes from a family very similar to mine. Although we’re separated by about 15 years in age, we already have many things in common. She’s excited about having a big sister, and I’m very excited about having a little sister. I want to be able to share many fun memories with Alicia.

I can only dream that one day, she’ll be standing where I am now…talking about our great friendship we had and how excited she is about her new little sister.


by Candace Martyn – Past Big Sister and past Little Sister
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley

Impact of Mentoring