Salty Woman: Shulamit Sappire
From helping survivors at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic to running operations as co-owner at Unchained Athletics, there's literally nothing this woman can't do.
If I can summarize Shulamit (Shully) Sappire into one word, it'd be fearless. Gifted with the ability to communicate to others, she's on a mission to make change and is not afraid to fight the good fight. You can say that everything just fell on her, from volunteering at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic resulting into a full time job providing legal counsel to volunteering at Unchained Athletics resulting in her becoming co-owner and running operations - but nothing comes out of nowhere. Shully has a special knack for seeing potential in something and then making it happen.
How does she keep going? She recognizes that she has the ability in herself to make a change, but also recognizes that she's not alone in the fight. That there are other people out there doing the work as well.
"And if take a break today that doesn’t mean that someone else isn’t doing the work. Or if someone else takes a break, that doesn’t mean that they’re not doing the work because we’re all here trying to help each other."
Speaking about taking breaks - with a solid upbringing on hard work ethics and always striving for success, she learned at an early age how destructive being an overachiever can be. Experiencing a burnout during her last years of university literally took her to the hospital taught her a lesson she makes sure to follow everyday moving forward.
"It taught me that if I pushed too hard and I don't learn the difference between pushing through and stoping and resting I was going to have a very short-lived anything. It starts with you. If your mind, body and soul is all over the place, whatever you’re trying to do is never going to go anywhere."
Her recent work with Unchained Athletics has opened her up to the world of business, something she's said she never thought she would be interested in or pursue.
"There's just the Queen Street, Bay Street, King Street - this one type of workout that exists for only certain body types, certain colours, certain income levels. I want to change that."
With Unchained Athletics she aims to bring fitness into other areas. Recognizing that fitness is a space for the privileged, she aims to make fitness available and comfortable to niche markets.
Her experience working with survivors has shown her that most people just want to be heard and to know what the options are. She also recognizes that everyone is in a different stage in their lives and you have to grow with them and let them get comfortable until they're ready to move to the next phase in their healing process.
"It starts with the idea that in general, women in the world have been told they can only occupy a certain space and they can only be treated a certain way. While a lot of that has changed, there's still a lot of that is ingrained in daily lives that is very hard to break."
But Shully is a firm believer that making change has to be inclusive. She wants us to think past the experiences we have from people close to us (our sisters, cousins, friends) to realizing that we're just the same as the random woman being assaulted on the street. That this is a real thing and can happen to anyone.
You actually have to draw a line between standing up for yourself, being bold, taking up space, but not being disrespectful toward other women around you. You need to respect your position from someone who is next to you.
She believes that Canada needs to work harder on creating safe spaces. On developing communities and creating opportunities and better options for people so they don’t feel like their lives are tied to one person or a place that is really harming them in one way or the other. At the end of the day, she hopes she can bring all her learnings and do similar work back home in Nigeria.
She embodies the quote, "to be young, gifted and black," by Nina Simone. Shully truly believes that you don't have to be one thing, and one thing only. That if you want to, you can be multiple things. Working with survivors has shown her that people just want to feel comfortable where they are and be able to live life freely. And a lot of that is about providing options. "Giving people options empowers them."
Now holding a leadership role at Unchained Athletics she plans to empower her team by giving them the stepping stones they need to flourish and grow and do their own thing.
“I’m 23, I’ve already been told no a whole bunch of times and for different reasons, I expect to be told more of it. I don’t plan on stopping. “
Hear her speak and get the chance to meet her in person on April 2nd! Join us for our first-ever Salty Woman series. Click here for tickets.