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Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Home Community Voices 2022 Womens Month Breaking Through Barriers

Breaking Through Barriers

Breaking Through Barriers
Melanie Markling, Northern Elite Firearms. Submitted photo.

by Melanie Markling
Northern Elite Firearms

When I was younger, I had a difficult time verbally expressing myself which was likely a blessing in disguise as I was able to sit back and observe; and I learned to write.  Writing became a great interest of mine around ten years old; coincidentally, so did money although I was more interested in earning it rather than managing it effectively to get me ahead.  Speaking of blessings, my Christian faith guided me through my younger years until the challenge of maintaining that level of commitment presented a weakness in my character – it was then I stepped into a different obstacle course.  When I reflect back on those younger days, I needed all of those barriers to get me to where I find myself today.  

With guidance and support from my loving family, I was able to complete many years of university where I finally ended up with a Bachelor of Education degree.  I find satisfaction in adventure and learning and, although my teaching career was limited, a career opened up at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary.  I jumped in and found myself literally behind barriers.  It was in this environment where I became very skilled at reading and assessing human behaviour and risk.  During my time there I stepped into various leadership roles but found difficulty in performing tasks that conflicted with my sense of wellbeing.  As we all experience, sometimes choices result in consequences we haven’t previously considered.  There were deep wounds and casualties throughout my journey in corrections.  Some decisions I made deeply affected the world around me: a choice to distance myself from God, a choice to consume too much alcohol, a choice to break off relationships – the list of my choices is long and indeed I found myself hitting barriers time after time (I still do).  When I look back on my life, risk was something to be cautious about but it rarely stopped me from jumping into what I felt I needed to do.  

Although I became broken down by several consequences of my choices, I understood I needed to keep moving forward.  Honouring my interests and curiosities; and choosing not to victimize myself and rather take action, I increased my ability to reach further and do more.  It meant parting ways from people and things but it also meant healing and forgiveness so I could keep growing.  It seems like a silly concept but as a part of life growth is what we all do here on earth.  In an effort to heal my own emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health, I grew closer in my connection to the land and my natural interest in firearms flourished.  How would I have known my first two experiences with firearms would catapult me into the firearm industry?  With the prison system providing barriers I simply could not break through, I changed my direction and, along with my business partner, created Northern Elite Firearms – a gun store and indoor range that delivers exceptional products and professional service to law-abiding gun owners throughout the country. 

Being a woman in a male-dominated industry is extremely interesting – especially in the gun world where there are as many different types of firearm owners as cartridges on the shelves.  Make no mistake, it’s been quite the challenge to educate myself in firearm jargon and to this day, even though I would say my knowledge of firearms is far greater than it was five years ago, I still acquire new facts daily and acknowledge myself as a novice in the industry.  It’s still very evident to me that men walk into the store to speak with the men.  And I’m ok with that – I actually prefer it because, again, going back to my youth, I can sit back and observe.  As a woman, I’ve learned an incredible amount in my life due to keeping my eyes and ears open and my mouth closed.  Perhaps that is not politically correct but that is my reality and it’s contributed to my own personal success.  

I don’t claim to have all the answers but I do know that with guidance and grace from the Lord I’ve helped to create a community where men, women, and children feel welcomed and interested in learning.  Plus, I am my own boss – a childhood dream.  I even manage to find time to write now and again.  Aside from my faith, family, and friends, my other focus is on firearms and my goal is to simply increase firearm awareness and safety within my community.  It’s an honour to be a part of the societal shift, once again, where people are learning to appreciate guns as effective and necessary tools provided to us from our forefathers.  Instead of fearing them, I encourage people to feel empowered and skilled with firearms.  As I continue to deconstruct the myths about gun ownership and violence in Canada, I’ll embrace the gifts I am given and move ahead knowing I will always encounter another problem that I can navigate my way through.  After breaking through so many barriers in my life, what’s a few more.