It took Athabasca University (AU) learner Kira Dunlop nine years, four different schools, and getting sober to work towards earning her Bachelor of Commerce degree. Now she’s nearing the finish line but the road to get there was anything but easy.
Starting at the age of 14, Dunlop struggled with alcohol and drug use—first alcohol, then cocaine, then both.
Dunlop comes from a family with significant mental health issues that span generations. Her father passed away from mental health and addiction when she was nine years old, and she knew she’d end up like him if she continued the same path.
“I got sober because I knew I was going to die. I was putting myself in danger every time I drank.”– Kira Dunlop, AU learner and founder and president of the Boring Little Girls Club
“I got sober because I knew I was going to die,” said Dunlop, now 26. “I was putting myself in danger every time I drank. So, I got sober.”
When she made the decision to pursue sobriety four-and-a-half years ago, she lost friends, community, and support when she needed it most. Her “friends” told her being sober was boring and so was rebelling against the societal norm of drinking and using drugs socially.
She tried going to meetings, but they didn’t work for her. Realizing a need for social spaces that didn’t include alcohol or drugs, she created one.
“Someone called me a ‘boring little girl’ to my face, and that’s where the idea came from,” she said. “I was searching for support and knew that if I was feeling this way, someone else was too.”
Dunlop founded the Boring Little Girls Club in Calgary in November 2018.
Creating safer sober spaces
Boring Little Girls Club is a community of sober women, trans, and non-binary folks who support each other and have fun without alcohol or recreational drugs.
The club not only creates a safer, sober space for those in need, it’s also about building a community of individuals who support each other through what can feel like an isolating time.
“From my very first encounter with Kira and the Boring Little Girls Club, I was accepted as Nicole and treated with respect,” said Nicole Olchowecki, who found the club shortly after moving to Calgary before the pandemic. Olchowecki was battling addiction at the time and was just discovering her gender identity as a trans-woman.
“I was allowed and encouraged to discover who ‘Nicole’ was and who she could become,” she said.
“The club saved my life by providing a safe, sober and accepting social space where people are encouraged to become involved in the group and larger community. It was a place that allowed me to emerge from my self-imposed prison.”
“The club saved my life by providing a safe, sober and accepting social space where people are encouraged to become involved in the group and larger community. It was a place that allowed me to emerge from my self-imposed prison.”– Nicole Olchowecki, a member of the Boring Little Girls Club
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