I was born in the territory of the Mi’kmaq people, in what is widely known as Nova Scotia, Canada. My ancestors on my mother’s side are Scottish, Lebanese, French, and Mi’kmaq. My maternal great-grandfather came from Lebanon to Mi’kmaq territory in the late 1800s as far as I know. I don’t know how far back it was when my maternal ancestors arrived from Scotland and France. I discovered the Mi’kmaq line of my ancestry when I was in my 40s. I do not have lived experience on these lands as part of any Mi’kmaq community and most of my ancestors have been settlers on these lands. I am a settler, or uninvited guest, on these lands with some Mi’kmaq ancestors. My ancestors on my father’s side are Irish. I don’t know when they arrived on the east coast of Northern Turtle Island, widely known as Canada.
I started my career as a lawyer in Mi’kmaq territory, where I was admitted to the practice in 1995. I continued my career as a lawyer initially in Snuneymuxw territory, in what is widely known as Nanaimo, British Columbia, where I was admitted to the practice in 2014. I relocated to Lekwungen territory, widely known as Victoria, British Columbia, in 2016. I’ve practiced law on both coasts of Northern Turtle Island, widely known as Canada, assisting clients through family law matters, criminal proceedings, and representing survivors of institutional abuse (physical and sexual abuse experienced in institutional settings like prisons and churches). I have also practiced in the areas of labour law and employment law, including representing clients facing COVID-related restrictions.
I developed Creating Your Freedom Portfolio in 2004. I’ve been coaching people towards claiming their freedom by moving into their own dream of why they are here, formally and informally, ever since.
My work in coaching started when a few of the professionals I was working with on some health issues asked me what I was doing to move through things so quickly and suggested assisting others. I came up with a journey of 9 steps that I began walking people through. That’s how Creating Your Freedom Portfolio was born. In Creating Your Freedom Portfolio, I first guide you deep within to the essence of who you are and what gives your life meaning. From there we move to supporting the manifestation of what you uniquely bring to the world.
I also offer Intuitive Coaching, which is a very fluid, client-driven approach to supporting you in manifesting your life’s work, or whatever intention or goal you have set for yourself.
Over the years, I have worked in the non-profit/social enterprise sector. My work in that sector has included:
- project management of novel pilot projects using a peer-based approach to encourage residents of the downtown eastside of Vancouver to make improvements to health and housing in their neighbourhood
- working as an Executive Director for a child and youth serving organization
- working as a Consultant, developing board governance tools within organizations
- acting as the Chair of a Board of Directors for a mental health serving organization
- developing Social Enterprises (for profit organizations with a social and/or environmental purpose)
In June, 2021, I obtained certification as a legal coach. Legal coaching is a relatively new service, with certification being made available only recently.
Relatively few lawyers in Canada have this certification. Legal coaching can be very empowering for clients in the right circumstances. It is also a way to make legal services more affordable, thereby increasing access to justice.
My work as a lawyer has included:
- working in a mid-sized firm
- working in a few small firms (including a feminist, social justice law firm)
- working as a sole practitioner at my own firm
I currently practice law, and legal coaching, as a sole practitioner at my own firm, Anne O’Neil Law.
Most of the work I have done in my life has had a social justice flavour.
I sought out a spiritual foundation for this work very early on. Tibetan Buddhism provided me with that foundation. In 2018, I was diagnosed with an early stage breast cancer. I learned so much about true health in my recovery using minimal surgery, combined with a strong emphasis on naturopathic, homeopathic, and spiritual approaches to healing. I have never felt better in my life and the improvements I feel are backed up by the test results I have been receiving. Working with Shauna Janz on somatic practices, grief and loss, and ancestral healing and reclamation have also been instrumental over the last number of years.
Creativity has been another important thread through my life. I have always been a writer. Journaling, poetry, and other forms of writing have been invaluable tools in more deeply experiencing and understanding the processes of my life. Writing also helps me to navigate the many twists, turns, and transitions life takes over the years. Painting is another form of creative expression that has added much richness to my life.
I have navigated many transitions in my professional life, moving between practicing law, providing services for non-profits and social enterprises, and providing life coaching and legal coaching services. My approach to coaching has evolved over the years to be more open and varied, drawing upon all that I have studied and experienced.
What I have found along the way is that if we are given the right support at the right time we can grow and flourish throughout our lives. I have had many friends and teachers along the way. I know that life is better when we are able to live more fully into who we are and experience the true freedom of sharing our gifts with others in ways that are deeply satisfying. Supporting others in stepping into this way of life is my greatest joy and honour.