Sequoia Canada

Last updated: 2014

Sequoia Canada

2014 Beat the Odds Honoree

A reflective Sequoia remembers asking herself, “Why can’t I have that?” or “Why does my life have to be like this?” or most importantly, “Why aren’t my parents in my life?” Mother and father practically nonexistent, at the mere age of four, Sequoia remembers her parents being high off PCP and being incarcerated after running over a little girl resulting in parallelization from the waist down. Imagine that? At this same time, she and her eldest brother being taken away her mom because the neighbors called Child Protective Services. Her mother could not care for them, she had her issues suffering from her physical abuse while struggling to feed and take care of her children.

Sequoia was introduced to the foster system with her brother, placed in temporary homes and soon separated from each other. He went with their father, she to an aunt. Living with her aunt seemed pleasant for a while until she became uncomfortable and by age 8 moved with another aunt. Life became brand new for Sequoia, her aunt didn’t expose her to extracurricular activities, and she found herself getting in trouble a lot due to lack of supervision. She despised her living space and begged to stay with the grandmother. At age 10, her wish was made true. Within the next year, she would learn of her mother’s pregnancy, twins, baby girls. Her grandmother took custody and over the next six years she has been by her grandmother’s side helping to raise her little sisters. Despite the excessive workload she received from the school, she stayed up and took the “night shift” laboring to the care of her sisters needs during her grandmother rest. Working on homework assignments became difficult and found the time to prepare properly for school became a challenge.

United Friends of the Children, a program for foster kids became a saving grace for Sequoia. She was blessed with an opportunity to attend a private school, New Roads. Farther in the distance, but challenging nonetheless academically, Sequoia learned to prioritize her school/home life and woke up every morning at 5 am to catch three buses while maintaining a 3.50 GPA. A supportive grandmother, a loving grandmother, her biggest fan! Trusting in believing in her granddaughter that she would not fail, her strength and health became weak. Seeing her grandmother’s illness, she kept a smile on her face and was motivated by the pain and struggle. She would prove to her grandmother that she would be the first in her family to attend and graduate from a university. With a great attitude toward change, and an innate ability to see a situation for what it is and overcome, Sequoia is sure to become an extraordinary young lady who will and always beat the odds.