In conversation with Cheryl Sandiford, Reflexologist


Cheryl Sandiford

Cheryl Sandiford


Could you tell me about your childhood? Where were you born? Is there anything about your childhood that stands out for you? Helped form who you are today? Your parents, friends, school?

I was born in North Battleford, Sask. I had a happy childhood, until we moved. It was a challenge growing up in Sask being the only or one of the only black families in the small town that I was in at the time. But you make the most of what you have, and I did.  My mother was a nurse and I wanted to be a nurse until when in grade 12 biology class we had to pick a partner so that we could find out our blood type. This involved lancing my finger and the finger of my partner. I couldn’t do it as I felt it would hurt her – therefore nursing was out the question.

After having gone to University for awhile, but not knowing what I wanted to study, I went looking for a job. While working at one of the jobs, one of my coworkers wanted her shoulders rubbed as she was paraplegic. I did this for her. She said it was being done correctly, therefore she wanted me to go with her when she saw her massage therapist. She felt that in this way I would know exactly what a massage therapist does, as she felt that was what I should do as a profession.  She would have been the person to get me started on my journey to working in the holistic field.

You are a reflexologist, a profession many of our readers had not heard about. Can you tell us what this profession entails? Who is your typical client?

Reflexology is a profession where the clients that come to see me only have to remove their socks and shoes. I am physically working on their feet and in doing this, I am working on their entire body. There is a map of your entire body on your feet. Whatever is on the right side of your body is on your right foot and left side of the body on the left foot. I am working with all muscles, glands and organs of the body as all are on the feet. If someone is ticklish, it won’t tickle them as a different pressure is applied to the feet. While I am working on someone, they are put into a restful state so that they may reap the benefits of the session. One can relax and sleep if they want, or not. It depends on the client and what they choose to do. Resting will reap more benefits.

What reflexology does is that it brings the body back to normalcy without medication. It relieves stress, improves blood circulation and brings your system to a normal state all naturally.  I take both men and women as clients. You don’t have to be in excellent physical shape before coming to see me. If you are, you will still benefit.

Benefits of Reflexology

Some of the benefits of reflexology include its ability to stimulate nerve function, increases energy, boosts circulation, induces a deep state of relaxation, eliminates toxins, stimulates the central nervous system, prevents migraines, cleans up urinary tract conditions, speeds recovery after injury or surgery, helps relieve sleep disorders, reduces depression, and relieves pain. Furthermore, it can help ease the treatment of various cancer and even helps to soothe the pains of pregnancy, even those occurring after the baby is born.

Many of us find ourselves on our feet all day at work. Whether you work in an office, a factory, a field, a hospital, or anything in between, there is a good chance that you put a lot of weight and stress on your feet every day. The thing is, that stress can also manifest itself in the other parts of our body. It is a similar situation to back pain. For back pain, people often get massages, so it makes sense that there should also be foot massages, right? Reflexology is much more than a foot massage, but at its foundation, that’s the easiest way to describe the process. This specific area of massage therapy also includes the hands and ears, making it more of an extremity massage than a foot massage.

What is your educational background? What type of training did you undertake to become a reflexologist?

My education background is 1.5 years of university and the school of hard knocks.  Before becoming a reflexologist, I had wanted to be a massage therapist. There were a few things that stood in the way of that goal. After life got in my way and things changed for me, I wanted to do something similar to massage therapy. I found reflexology and it didn’t require a person to take off clothing.

I went to a school, the School of Complementary Therapies, here in Ottawa. I was not living in Ottawa at that time. I completed my training and got my certification in 2004. I am also a member of the Reflexology Registration Council of Ontario.

How do you see the relationship between black men and women in Ottawa and in Canada in general? There are some black women who claim they are not respected by black men, that black men give more respect to white women than themselves? Do you support this point of view?

I am in a relationship where I receive great respect. I cannot comment on how it is for the relationship between black men and women in Ottawa. I have only been here for 4 years. I have seen black men with white women and black women with white men. I also do not feel that I am the person to comment on this

There appears to be a divide on one level between black Francophone and Anglophone communities, and on another level between people from continental Africa and those from the Caribbean. These discrete groups often operate separately and rarely hold events together or collaborate in joint projects to their mutual benefit? Do you agree with this perception and if so what can be done to increase collaboration among our various community groups?

This is another area where I don’t feel that my opinion will agree with others, as I have friends from all over the globe. I have seen that some people want to stay in their own setting, as it is something that they know and therefore know how to behave, whereas others would like to learn about other cultures, so they not stick to a particular culture. I would be the latter. I am more concerned how all people treat me and it gives me a window (even though it might be small) into another culture’s world.

Looking at Ottawa’s black community, what do you see as our biggest challenges? Crime, unemployment, school drop outs, other? How do we overcome them?

Looking at Ottawa’s black community depending on where the black people come from and the challenges they have had to go through just to be here, may be what gives a person an outlook as to where they may go to either look for a job, or the type of job, or the age of the person. There are many factors that go into that question.

I do believe that unemployment could be a factor, depending on how picky some people may be.  How do we overcome these issues? First we have to look at ourselves and determine what we want. Is it achievable where I am, if not what am I willing to do? These are questions that we have to ask ourselves and figure out where to go from there.

Canada is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary as a nation. In the years since you’ve been in Ottawa, have you seen the situation of Blacks as changed for the better: more access to jobs, social inclusion etc. Do we have reason to celebrate alongside other Canadians?

As I was born a Canadian citizen, I don’t see the relevance to the number of years I’ve been in Ottawa. However, having been in Ottawa for 4 years, I don’t know if the situation for Blacks has changed. Whether we feel we should celebrate with other Canadians should be a personal choice, as everyone has their own personal circumstance.

Do you have any hobbies or pastimes?

Hobbies/pastimes – I like to learn other languages – a work in progress

What has been your biggest achievement and what was your biggest challenge? In your work, family life, social life, other?

In my work life – the biggest challenge is getting information to people about reflexology, so that they know what it does and how it can help them. Many people give an indication that they know what it is and as a result I don’t explain. I have found that I have to check to see if they know what it is and if not, explain.

If you had to live your life all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

No. Everything has been a learning experience. I should learn from my mistakes and grow from them and know what not to do again.

Finally, do you have a message for readers of Black Ottawa Scene?

Yes. It is your life. Make it the best for you without hurting anyone!



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  1. maureen soukoreff October 10, 2017 at 3:30 am - Reply

    Sabra! It is so good to see your smiling and welcoming face! Congratulations on your career success. Maureen Soukoreff

  2. Assalaamu alaikum Um Shaakir, You continue to exude grace, strength and dignity. I’m so proud of you and love you dearly.
    Your sister,
    Um Nur

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