Heather Canuel is a single mother, a business owner, and brightens any room she enters. But things weren’t always that way for the Decatur native. “I was in an abusive relationship. It was physically and mentally abusive. I unfortunately made a lot of bad decisions. But now those bad decisions are helping me to help other women,” explained Canuel.
Her mistakes led to prison. She was pregnant at the time and gave birth to her daughter while handcuffed to the bed. She has since worked with the group ‘Women’s Justice Institute’ to lobby for the law to be abolished, which it was. “People tend to forget in this state that there are a lot of people incarcerated. There are a lot of people on probation and there are a lot of people that are hopeless,” Canuel explained.
Now she channels her energy into doing hair, and fighting for other women struggling to find their place through WJI. “Sometimes just giving them that emotional boost which I like doing by doing hair. It makes them feel good. And when you feel good you feel like you can conquer things, like getting that job,” explained Canuel. She uses her platform to help with the YWCA’s Labyrinth House for recently released women. She gives them haircuts for free every three months and helps them prepare for job interviews. Canuel calls herself a ‘Translator’ because she understands the needs of women at their lowest. And has the skills to communicate that to those who make decisions in the community.