Not All Heroes Wear Capes

This is my first blog ever. Even when blogging was cool, I wasn’t cool enough to do it. I decided to write my first blog about a passion of mine and something that affects my life on a daily basis: Superheroes.

Now some people think that superheroes only exist in comic books, movies, or tv shows. If that’s the case, I encourage you to take a look around and see what you discover.

For instance, I work with numerous superheroes. The people I work with everyday are amazing. They fill in when people are away, are always willing to help, and being part of the regulatory team, work with credit unions to ensure that the Saskatchewan system as a whole remains strong. Speaking of the system, credit union employees are superheroes to all members. Even in these trying times of the pandemic, credit union employees are there to help you when and if you need them. They have found new ways to stay connected to members and new ways to support their local communities. Credit unions have not missed a beat when it comes to supporting member financial needs, showing the dedication of their employees and of cooperative values in everything they do. These are the everyday superheroes; always there when you need them, even without a bat symbol.

Moving on to a group of superheroes I know, the Sask Young Leaders Committee. This committee works tirelessly to bring events and information to the SYL community. Although some of the usual events couldn’t be held this year, the brilliant minds that I have the privilege to work with came up with new events such as the Leadership Webinar series. Additionally, the SYL Awards will be presented soon, which showcases some superheroes from various credit unions that I alluded to above. The SYL Committee is one of the most rewarding things that I have been a part of. Getting to know these brilliant people has been amazing and puts my mind at ease that the future of the credit union system will continue to be in good hands. These individuals go above and beyond for their credit unions, their coworkers, and their communities on a daily basis, and do not get near the recognition that they deserve. They are the encouraging superheroes; always growing and always helping others reach their goals, without ever asking for anything in return.

Then there are the silent superheroes; family. Personally, I don’t know what I would do without my family, including my friends. In good times and bad, my friends are there for me whether I ask them for help or not and always willing to hang out and lend an ear. My mom constantly invites me for supper (and sends me home with leftovers), listens to my rants about my day, and provides advice and a shoulder to cry on in my darkest of days. My dad is there for me in a different way, as he is not much of a feelings kind of guy. He just genuinely likes to spend time with his sons; chatting and watching sports, and still comes to all of our baseball games to support us. My brother keeps me constantly entertained with his antics, stories, and snapchats, making me smile even when I’ve had a rough day. When I was younger, if you would’ve told me that my little brother would be my best friend one day, I would have said you were crazy; but here we are! I’d do anything for that kid and I know he would do the same for me. Finally, I have my very own Bruce Wayne. Whether I am in a good mood, bad mood, or just having one of those days, my dog is my rock. He’s seen me laugh, cry, have some of the best times of my life, and some of the worst. If I’m upset, he lays next to me and for some reason it makes me feel better. He brings me his toys as a way to distract my mind, and as much as he may drive me crazy sometimes, he always cheers me up with his expressions or his actions. He has such a fun, outgoing, and loving personality that you can’t help but smile when you’re around him.

So as you can see, some superheroes are hiding in plain sight. They don’t wear capes or have cool gadgets or drive cool cars, but they’re there every day making the world a little better place for those who are lucky enough to be in their lives. Take a minute to think about the superheroes in your life. Maybe you are a superhero for someone else and you don’t even know it! Sometimes the smallest acts can make the biggest difference in someone’s day. Superheroes are everywhere in this world. You just need to stop and look.


To Infinity…. And Beyond! Life lessons from SYL

Well hello SYL community! If you’ve had the chance to attend any of our events the past few years, you’ve likely seen me hop on the mic to say hello. My name is Ashley – I am a third year SYL committee member, former Chair, and general Saskatchewan Young Leaders super fan. I hope this blog finds you and yours healthy and safe. This being my final blog as a member of the SYL committee, I wanted to write to you – our community – on a more personal note and share some of the life lessons I’ve learned along the way.


Lesson 1 – Lead from where you are  

Allow me a moment to rewind the clock for you. The year is 2013. Macklemore has taken over the airwaves with his hit ‘Thrift Shop’, the Royal Family has just welcomed Prince George, Alberta was overcome by flooding and politician Rob Ford has just admitted to a personal battle with crack cocaine. It was a simpler time, friends. I had just entered the Credit Union system, and had already started learning some valuable lessons about credit and financial health through my role as MSR (teller). I was shocked by how much I didn’t know about maintaining financial health; I felt like I had been duped about how simple decisions could majorly impact our future. I was still rolling this newfound knowledge around in my head when a new SYL contest was announced – SYL Sask CU Advance. The aim of this contest was to develop a ‘big idea’ which would advance the system for young CUers. I was inspired. I wanted to share what I had learned with students – we could teach them early; let them learn before they had to do all of the adulting. I was nervous though – brand new to the system, hardly an expert, and still getting my footing in my job. With the support of a great manager (thanks Janet!), a strong SYL rep (thanks Lindsay!) and some guts I entered the competition. After late nights perfecting my video, campaigning for votes, and finally presenting my ‘Big Idea’ to a room of executives, I’m so proud to say that I won. I used my scholarship money to further my career in the system, and my love for SYL was born. They did not care that I was new and still learning; they welcomed me to bring my ideas to the table and encouraged me to act on them. I was hooked.


Lesson 2 – Disappointment

Shortly after my big SYL win, I was riding cloud nine career wise. I got a promotion, was pounding though my brokerage courses, and got the opportunity to actually take my ‘big idea’ to the students. It was incredible. When SYL put out the call for new committee members, I immediately went to work on the application. I had some quick wins and thought I would be a shoe in. So, when I wasn’t chosen to join the committee that year, I was devastated. Now for some people this may have just been a volunteer committee so no harm no foul, but this volunteer committee had given me the confidence, training and financial support to develop into my career. This was a hard lesson for me. Fast forward the next year; things had changed and my Credit Union’s SYL rep had left the system. It was time for applications to go in again. This time, it was decided internally at my Credit Union that this would not be my year. You can imagine how tough this was for me. I now understand that these decisions are based on so many factors, including the make up of the committee as a whole, and were not personal. But at that time… it hurt. It took me time to process, and it was not pretty. I was so disappointed. Fast forward one more year to a happy ending – third time was the charm! And what a charm it was – the year I joined terms were extended from 2 years to 3. It was a WAY better time in my personal life to take on the challenge that is SYL, and I got to join the committee with the best possible people. This was a lesson in humility for me, grace and ‘what not to do’. Always learning.


Lesson 3 – Trust

Have you ever heard about those little girls who get told in grade school that they’re bossy, and then everyone giggles and says they have ‘leadership skills’? That’s me. Except when I joined SYL I was still about 92% bossy and 8% leadership skills. Being on this committee taught me to let go and trust (stop laughing fellow committee members 😉 ). I have volunteered my entire life, but I can honestly say this was the first group I had been a part of where committee members ALL committed to things and then either followed through or had the vulnerability to ask for help. There is no ‘that’s not my job’ in SYL. The system is bigger than all of us, and we are stronger together.  My second year on the committee I had the absolute honor of being called Chair. This was a stretch for me. Previously I had adopted a ‘if you want something done right, you do it yourself’ attitude, and this was not easy to let go of. Through a lot of soul searching and support, my committee members helped teach me the pleasure of working as a team and watching those around you shine in the spotlight. This year was the year I truly learned what servant leadership was all about. I had to practice teaching over doing, listening over fixing and giving the credit while taking the blame. I could not be prouder of what our committee accomplished the year I was chair, and the lessons I learned from each committee member will always stick with me.


Lesson 4 – Failing Forward

During my time on the SYL committee, one of my absolute favorite things was the freedom and encouragement to fail. Sound crazy? It’s not! This team encourages that blue sky, big idea thinking. Even if your idea fizzles, your thought can encourage conversation that can lead to something amazing. Our calls are loud – our meetings are louder. It is absolutely essential that everyone on the committee participates with passion and creativity. This is why we are so strong. We laugh with each other, we work with each other, and we never say, ‘I’m good with whatever’.


Lesson 5 – Everything changes

Coming into my 3rd and final year of SYL, I could never have predicted what the year would bring. I ended up accepting a job at a different Credit Union; leaving my coworkers and community when I never thought that would happen. Throughout all of that career change, I had a health scare that absolutely rocked everything I believed. And then there was the little issue of the global pandemic, affecting not only everything in our day to day lives, but bringing my last SYL year of events to a standstill. This year though… this year I was better prepared to roll with the changes. I watched my family and friends lean into me with so much support and enthusiasm. I watched my fellow committee members grow and develop new ways to enrich our credit union system; learning and mastering new ways of communication faster than you can say ‘Leadership Series’. I watched at the world adapted to this ‘new normal’, and yes – we did bend – but we did not break. It has not been any easy year, but we are still here and I cannot wait to see what the next year brings.


Lesson 6 – Some things stay the same

I know, I know. Lessons 5 and 6 are contradictory, but just stick with me for a second here. Since 2013 and my first introduction to SYL, there have been some steadfast truths within the committee and community. Passion in your career will get you everywhere, even if it’s not when you expected. The credit union system is designed to listen, but you cannot be afraid to talk. All it takes is a couple of days locked in a meeting room, so many m&ms, and a slight touch of day two flu to make lifelong friends who will be there for you no matter what. Leadership knows no age and no title. If you want something, it’s not enough to say it – you have to go out and work for it, and surround yourself with people who inspire you to push to be better.



A final note to my fellow committee members: I wanted this so badly, but I had no idea just how incredible you would make this experience. Tamara – the calmest, most organized leader talking me down from the edge all the time. Larissa – such a bias to action; every task was done quickly and with an unrivaled quality. Chris – your creativity is second to none, and I’ve loved growing together on this journey. Ryan – my right-hand man, Ricki’s twin, biggest confident and most likely to argue with – I appreciate you more than you know. Shaundra – I wish I could capture your way with people, and how easy it is for you to connect. Amy – you have made me feel welcome from day 1 in Unity, and you have an unrivaled way of correcting without judging. Darcy – you get stuff done with a flair and humility that is a joy to be around, and without being asked to boot! Stephanie – you show grace in the face of transition, and you are not afraid to speak up and champion this committee. Alex – your talent is incredible; you always bring 150% to the table. Jarred – you work for CUDGC but I still like you. But for real, I’m impressed by your quick mind and you are always the first to volunteer for a task – you jump in without fear even if it is brand new.


This was not how I saw my third year of SYL ending, but I cannot think of a stronger group of leaders to take on the important work we do in the system. Thank you for teaching me everything, and for making a math nerd like me always feel like part of the team.


All the love,