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HUMANS OF SARNIA: Michelle Maitland

The Sarnia Journal has partnered with local photographer Art Connolly to feature his captivating “Humans of Sarnia” series as he delves into the lives and experiences of everyday people in Sarnia.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Michelle Maitland, a remarkable individual whose infectious positivity lights up any room she enters. 

Our encounter began at a Corunna event, where Michelle, a recruit with the St. Clair Township Fire Department (Courtright Station), left an indelible impression. It was clear that her energy was something I wanted to explore further.

Michelle's positivity is palpable, something that can't be fully described but only felt when you engage in conversation with her. 

She's one of those rare souls who have the innate ability to make you smile just by being in her presence. 

As a photographer, I couldn't resist the urge to capture her essence during the event, and she graciously agreed to a spontaneous photoshoot. In those few moments, amidst laughter and conversation, we decided to sit down later for a Humans of Sarnia interview.

Born in Ottawa, Michelle's journey led her to Sarnia at the age of 19, and now, with her husband and two sons, she proudly calls Mooretown her home. 

Conversing with Michelle reveals a mind that operates at hyper speed. She's not just intelligent and quick-witted but also incredibly curious. When she listens, it's with undivided attention and direct eye contact, a testament to her genuine interest in others.

Michelle's career journey has been as diverse as her interests. She currently serves as a School Specialist with the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, but her past roles include Human Resources Assistant, Research Facilitator, Document Controller, and even a Yoga Teacher. Her career choices underscore her enjoyment of working with people.

For Michelle, connecting with people is paramount. She firmly believes that everyone yearns for connection, and it's vital for individuals to see and be aware of one another. 

Her commitment to serving her community is evident through her roles as a fire department recruit and her involvement in local politics. Michelle views these endeavours as acts of altruism and public service. Though she faced unsuccessful bids in the 2018 and 2022 municipal elections, she regards these experiences as valuable lessons.

Her motivation for entering the political arena stemmed from a belief in the importance of representation. Michelle didn't just want to complain about the lack of representation; she chose to be a proactive force by running for office. 

Setting goals and working relentlessly towards them is a core part of her ethos, leading me to believe that we might see Michelle pursuing political office once again in the future.

Living a healthy lifestyle is another cornerstone of Michelle's life, marked by regular exercise and a commitment to healthy eating. Yet, as life often reminds us, unexpected challenges can arise. Michelle faced the diagnosis of breast cancer with her characteristic optimism, undergoing radiation treatment with unwavering positivity.

Michelle emphasizes the importance of finding "your people" and building networks of individuals you can rely on. In her journey, she discovered a remarkable network within her team at the St. Clair Township Fire Department. This predominantly male-dominated field initially raised concerns, but she's been heartened by the respect and support she's received from her team. Their strength, balance, love, and respect have been instrumental in her journey. She explains that she also loves that she is in training with some other “bad ass” women at the Courtright Fire station.

In Michelle Maitland, we find a beacon of positivity, a person whose vibrant spirit and commitment to community leave an indelible mark on those around her. 

Her story is a reminder that positivity, resilience, and a genuine interest in others can truly light up the world.

Art Connolly“Humans of Sarnia” founder Art Connolly is a man fuelled by curiosity and a passion for connecting with people in Sarnia. Inspired by the renowned “Humans of New York” series, with a camera in hand, he captures the very essence of the individuals he encounters, preserving their stories through his lens.