Stephan was born in Anjou, Québec (Canada) in 1971. His father was originally from English-speaking Guyana (South America) and his mother was a Caucasian francophone from Québec. Stephan is inherently the product of a bi-racial heritage.
Stephan’s father was no stranger to illegal activities, making him well-known to local law enforcement. Stephan’s father was physically abusive towards his son and his wife, eventually landing him in prison. Stephan was two years old when he permanently lost contact with his father, and, ultimately, his paternal family members as well.
The lack of a father figure and siblings made Stephan see his mother as the centre of his universe. But, at the tender age of seven, Stephan faced a turning point:
“I was seven years old. I was sitting in the car, listening to my mother talking. The engine was on, but the car was idling. All of a sudden, my mother stopped talking. I asked her what was wrong, but she couldn’t…wouldn’t…answer. Her eyes were telling me not to worry, protecting me in a way. It was as though she was saying “It’s nothing; it’ll pass.”
It took years for me to understand that my mother had suffered a stroke and that she had been in a coma for weeks. Sadly, that was the start of our woes to come. When my mother came out from her coma, and during the entire year that followed, she had no idea who I was. Despite numerous therapeutic interventions, my mother’s right side was completely paralyzed. She was also diagnosed with aphasia due to cerebral lesions, or, in laymen’s terms, she couldn’t speak”
Stephan had very little coping strategies to deal with certain challenges and setbacks: racism, his father’s abandonment, his mother’s stroke and the sense that he didn’t quite have a home. Today, Stephan would say that his reactions to these events were anything but exemplary. Rather than taking a positive outlook, and instead of choosing courage and determination, the way his mother would have, Stephan isolated himself and chose to rebel against authority.
Drawing on his experience, Stephan effectively illustrates the impact that one’s attitude can have on the final outcome when faced with change and uncertainty. He then makes parallels between his professional and personal experiences to help participants remember the importance of being adaptable in the workplace.
He reminds participants that challenges at work and at home should not translate into a negative outlook. As Stephan astutely observes: “It’s not what has happened to you that matters—it’s what you make of it.”
Stephan is the author of Devenez maître de votre viepublished by Quebecor (Note: translation forthcoming; tentative title translation: ‘Take Charge of Your Life’). The book is informative and seeks to transform the attitude of individuals in order to get them where they really want to be. His strategies are powerful and effective.
Stephan accepted the role of spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada in order to contribute positively to the work that is being done. He also wanted to do his part in creating awareness about heart disease prevention and about the impact of heart disease on society.