Empowering the next generation of resilient women

Helen Pearman Ziral (PhD) Professor of Humanities & Social Sciences is a brilliant resilient woman, human relations communication specialist, facilitator, wellness coach and interventionist who, for over 20 years, has been conducting workshops focused on women’s resilience, intrapersonal strength and transformation. Dr. Helen Z’s focuses primarily on the convergence of spirituality and intergenerational spirit injury along the matrilineal line and is currently a full-time college professor sharing her wisdom with the next generation of resilient women.

In this episode

Helen and I dive into how she broke free from the norms and beliefs long held by the world of academia and unearthed the importance of magnifying the impact of healing generational wounds. We discuss the amazing work she does now and how her decision to get her PhD, and the illness that precluded her doctoral education, impacted her life path. 

In the weeks leading up to her first days at OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at The University of Toronto) as a PhD student, she found herself excited to explore the intersection of the work she had done in her 2 different Master degrees (in Education and Human Resources) and noticed a simultaneous uneasiness in her body. And although pulling together her previous work was a clever way to maximize her years as a postgraduate student, it was in fact, not the biggest challenge the universe had planned for her. 

In the first month of her PhD journey, she was inexplicably afflicted with what is now known as fibromyalgia. And as a result needed to drastically modify her educational path. She was unable to make the arduous trip to school every day and enlisted the support of other students so that she could stay home and heal. At home “twiddling her thumbs”, she decided that if she couldn’t attend school, she would use her time to research her physical affliction.

She unearthed some fascinating phenomena about resilient women

And along with her own experience with a number of (male) doctors, she uncovered that 80-90% of the people suffering from this painful disorder were women. Most interestingly, she shared that as a result of longstanding systemic patriarchal (and racist) history of discounting the experience and validity of women, most of those afflicted were not taken seriously; she personally was led to believe that “it was all in her head”. She longed to uncover how she could shed light on and support other resilient women like her who had been suffering for too long.

As a highly educated, passionate and no-nonsense woman, she knew that the non-action opinions offered to her by western medicine professionals was not the end of the road. She had a deep sense that what she was experiencing was not “just in her head” that it was in fact a problem that was anchored in something that went beyond mind and body! 

Her unique journey as a resilient woman

She simultaneously unpacks fibromyalgia, the world of academia and the shared history of all resilient women, and reveals how it led to her true calling; the unveiling and exploration of intergenerational spirit injury intervention!

Listen, learn and tap into your own knowing

Explore your intersectionality…where your perception and experience of this one life you’re living is impacted by the resilient women that came before you, the ones who led you and what you believe now.

As you listen, embody the power of Sankofa, a powerful transformational element that Helen believes in, practices and teaches to other resilient women.


(“san” – return “ko” – go back and “fa” – take). A term derived from a proverb from the Akan people of West Africa meaning “go back and take”. The sankofa is a mythical bird that flies forward while looking backward with a golden egg (symbolizing the future and rebirth) between its beak. And when used in transformational work it embodies a powerful universal truth that by fetching the wisdom of our cultural past and living it in the present, we can all create a more prosperous future for all our children to thrive in. 

Learn more about and connect with Dr. Helen Pearman Ziral 

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