Episode 030: Jenn Dawkins -- Firefighter, philanthropist, mentor, ultra-athlete, dog-mom


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What we cover: What's it like to transform from a non-athletic background as a serious punk rocker with multi-coloured hair in the 1980s to a trailblazing visionary in her adult years? What does that look like, what does that feel like, where does the motivation come from, what drives her?

Jenn Dawkins is a fire fighter – one of about 80 women fire fighters out of approximately 3900 career fire fighters in the province of British Columbia. She’s a mentor and the creator of the very forward-thinking Camp Ignite – intended to push girls out of their comfort zones and to reimagine what’s possible.

She’s a non-traditional philanthropist. This is a woman who, in order to bring awareness to the horrors of the sex trade, and what it’s like for the women who are trying to leave and start their lives over, rather than post a few lines on Twitter, instead Jenn swam 22km (nearly 14 miles) in the Pacific Ocean – from Vancouver’s mainland to an island off the coast of the province.

If I’m being totally honest, when I was formatting the conversation for today and drafting my top level talking points, it was the first time in 30 episodes that I didn’t really know where to start. Not for lack of material, but for so much material. She is admired for so many reasons, so I took a dart and threw it at the wall and landed on her career, and so we started there. She’s is so instantly likeable – and I know you will love her too. She’s open about the fact that in her 20 year career as a fire fighter, societally and culturally, the attitude has changed for the better so much when it comes to reactions overall toward women in the fire department. And let’s be honest, in 2016, we’ve had to digest a lot of recent events that might leave us feeling we are going backwards – at least politically – so it was refreshing to hear a bit of good news and progress as this year wraps up.

If you listened to the two episodes (28 and 29) we did with Chad Bentley, one of the things I talk about with him, is his lack desire for the spot light. He turns away from it, whereas I run to it. Jenn and Chad have that in common. This is a woman who will run into a burning building, who will save lives, who is constantly and continually bringing awareness to societal issues that need some TLC --- but who is uncomfortable accepting any real recognition for her heroics. So when we talk about the prestigious award she was the recent recipient of, for her role in a Women Helping Women capacity, and I ask her about that, you can hear the modesty. And I admire her for that. Among other reasons, obviously.

I loved this chat. In her candor about her own transformation and what fuels her, she gives us all permission to evolve. It doesn’t have to be – and I say this all the time – the commitment to complete an Ironman. It can be whatever pulls at you. It’s just that decision to let past limiting beliefs go – and to blossom, if you feel like you’re overdue from some personal growth. Jenn is a self-described personal growth fanatic, but she wasn’t always. Now she’s voracious when it comes to all things

While we were drinking tea and engaging in this fantastic conversation, Jenn’s gorgeous rescue dog, Emma, was chewing somewhat audibly on a buffalo femur. (No! The buffalo wasn’t with us – just its femur was.) So, you will hear Emma’s contribution to the soundtrack in the background from time to time.

Value-add: I want to invite anyone listening who may be in the Vancouver area on January 7th, 2017 – if you’re feeling inspired by Jenn – she is, no big shocker, part of the brains behind the sure-to-be-awesome evening called "Wine Women and Sport". Three outstanding panelists – an Olympic rower, a world record marathon runner who just happens to be 89 years old, and a martial artist, -- are going to share insights and tips and conversation with those of us lucky enough to be there. So you can get your tickets for that awesome evening – I will be there, moderating the fun – via MJDionne.com, under the podcaster tab. Township 7 Wines will be there too – and I love them. Jenn and I talk more about this in our chat.

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