My name is Annette Peppler.
This year has been empowering for me and I am honored to share my story with you. I hope it will bring you the strength to move forward and find your courage to rise through your struggles to your own power.
I was born and raised in Edmonton for most of my life. My family moved to Regina for 4 years then moved back to St. Albert in my senior year of high school. I was not popular in school; I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I was involved in Girl Guides and the friends I made there were, and are, so incredible. The values and strength I learned there helped me throughout my life.
I went to college at Grant MacEwan and got a diploma in Law Enforcement, majoring in Security. I wanted to continue my education and get a degree in Criminal Justice, but life had other plans for me…
I got pregnant, and I had my amazing little boy who completely flipped my world around. He was born with an underdeveloped bowel and would end up needing 4 surgeries in the first 18 months of life. Because of this, I learned that the man who raised me was not my biological father and I was then introduced to my bio- dad, Hal, and my whole other family, including grandparents, a step mom and 2 other siblings. Good thing, because I would need all the family I could get to help me through the years to come.
Two years later, I had a beautiful little girl and when she was 12 days old, my kids and I were in a shelter for abused women. How could I be so stupid? I had a Law Enforcement background! It doesn’t matter. I wanted to save my family, but realized that the only way to do that was to leave to be safe. When I met my ex, the only debt I had was $4,500 in student loans… when I left it was over $36,000. I was on welfare and in hiding with my kids. I had to declare bankruptcy and worked 24/7 running a private day home to provide for my kids. I was able to be home and raise them.
Eventually, my brother moved in with us. He had been living out of his truck. Doug lived with us off and on for almost 8 years. The kicker to that, he was a crack addict. He never brought drugs into my house or anywhere around my kids.
He was trying to get clean and turn his life around when our world was thrown into a tailspin again.
Doug was in a work accident that caused a spinal injury; his surgery left him a quadriplegic and he was using drugs again. I would go out to find him when he was using, clean him up, and bring him back to the care center he was living in. When he needed anything, I was the one he would call for help. This went on for a couple of years until he moved to Kelowna and into his own home. I would go visit him and still when he called saying he needed me, I would get in my car and make the drive.
November 13, 2017, my life flipped upside down again. My little brother was gone! A lung infection caused cardiac arrest, complications from his last surgery. My mom, sister and I were able to get to Kelowna and made the decision to shut off life support. I held onto him as his heart slowed and stopped.
As his heart stopped, mine broke and it will never be whole again.
At Cashco, we talk about the School of Hard Knocks and the degrees we have obtained. My degree is SSEG. It stands for Strength, Survival, Empathy and Guidance. The Strength to survive the abuse I went through, the loss of a brother who was more like a third child to me. The empathy I gained from seeing addiction in a whole new light and being able to guide others who travel this same road. What I used to see as weaknesses, I now know are strengths.