Vanessa Gamble has spent all but the first six months of her life living in Prince Rupert. She is a daughter, mother, wife, Business Administration student, Parent Advisory Committee member, pet owner, one of this year’s Chamber of Commerce Rising stars and aspiring entrepreneur.
With two sons, ages seven and 11, she told The Northern View that balance is key to getting everything done.
“You have to have good time management skills and I have a large monthly planner where I mark down what is happening on each day, including what classes I have,” Gamble said. “I try to be done and have everything shut down by 8 p.m. each day so I can spend time with my family. My brain is usually overloaded by that time anyway.”
Time and activity management is part of the reason she is an active member on the P.A.C. at her boy’s school. She jokes that at first, she attended because they offered free gym time where her boys could run off steam, but really it’s because she likes to know ahead of time what activities are coming up and believes it’s important for parents to be involved in their children’s community.
She enjoys helping out and the kids especially love when attends school to help with pancake lunches because of the surprises that occur when she is there.
While she and other volunteers were cooking pancakes on the griddles to make sure each child got a scrumptious flapjack, the heat emanating from the grills activated the fire alarms. All students, staff and volunteers at the school had to be evacuated with the fire department attending. While lunch was a bit late, everyone finally got their pancakes.
“Everyone really enjoyed it. They weren’t expecting to be served a surprise evacuation,” she said.
Born Gitxsan to the Wolf Clan, Vanessa’s parents worked in the canneries. Each summer she would split her time staying with her grandparents on the Gitsegukla Reserve, and with her aunt, uncle and cousins in South Hazelton.
Vanessa recalled when she was about eight years old, her older cousins had her sit them to watch a movie that influenced her life from that moment on. That movie was the horror genre ‘Child’s Play”. She said when she returned home at the summer’s end, she packed up all of her dolls into boxes and locked them away in a closet – not her own bedroom closet, but down the hallway quite some distance from her room.
However the incident hasn’t put her off holding movie nights with her own children where they share chicken wings or pizza. Other times they have games nights, or go for long walks. The family enjoys camping and being in the outdoors.
It was being in the outdoors that landed a new kitten at her feet, she said.
“It was a really cold day over the holidays about four years ago. This kitten was dropped from a bird’s claws flying overhead. It landed very close to my car.”
Vanessa took it to the vet and while it had signs of being attacked by large birds, suffered only a fractured paw from the skyfall. She adopted him and he grew healthy.
Being an independent and inquisitive little fellow after venturing out on his own, he soon went missing.
“He had hidden himself outside for two days. We couldn’t find him anywhere. When we finally heard him, he was injured again,” Vanessa added that she thinks he was hit by a car.
“It was too late by then. He had to have emergency surgery to amputate his leg. Then he was in the hospital for a little bit. He’s made a full recovery now. He thumps around the house as a tri-pod cat. He’s a strictly indoor cat now.”
Vanessa said the community support was amazing when the cat’s story was told. Her neighbours assisted in fundraising a portion of the $2,500 vet bills, which were of course quite unexpected for the unexpected cat that fell from the sky.
While she has since curbed her cat’s independence she said she believes it is important for children to learn independence, which she is currently teaching to her own son.
“I find that that’s probably the most important thing right now is just teaching him how he can do things by himself and, and feel safe, like going to the park by himself,” she said admitting that at times she may helicopter parent too much. “I try to encourage independence, the more I encourage him the more he tries to do it.”
Vanessa tries to do as much as she can to be an example to her children. She is currently enrolled in the business administration program at Coast Mountain College where she will graduate in Dec. with her diploma.
Through her time in the course, she heard about the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce Rising Stars program where she learned about entrepreneurship and setting up a business. Participants are paired with a mentor and devise business plans for a specific goal.
While Vanessa had an original picture of a business she wanted, her mentor taught her to look at things from a different perspective, she said. She also learned firsthand early in the program that ideas unique to an individual are not proprietory and can easily end up as someone else’s plans or actions, as upsetting as it can be.
“After talking to my mentor, I calmed down a bit. I took a shower and washed it off. I chalked it up because that was my first experience in the real business world,” she said. “I learned not all ideas are going to be safe.”
While she originally felt a bit self-conscious in the program because she was the oldest participant with the youngest still in high school, the weekly scrum meetings in group sessions and individual one-on-ones with the mentors she soon realized the program was there to help her become the best entrepreneur she could be.
Vanessa excelled at the program and at the end was awarded a $ 500 bursary and for having the best business pitch she received seed funding of $2,000 to start her business. She will use the funding to set up a test market for her food service industry business which will incorporate First Nations elements.
Her favourite part of the Rising Stars program was attending Toastmasters and having to prepare a speech presentation.
“I’d heard of Toastmaster before, but always wondered why people would deliberately go an speak in public on purpose, but once I went to a couple of meetings I really enjoyed myself,” she said adding that her speech was about a time with her cousins when she was about six years old. They told her that if her feet touched the bottom of the lake a monster would eat her toes. To this day Vanessa doesn’t like to be in water that she can not see the bottom of. Her cousins have a lot to answer for she laughed.
“The Rising Stars was a good experience. It definitely gave me a confidence boost that my idea is tangible. Sometimes when I think about my business plans as a whole picture, I get a bit anxious and worried about how am I going to do this all. But the Rising Stars has taught me there are people out there I can talk to and they will help me.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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