MAKING AN IMPACT
Updated: Dec 18, 2019
So, I've been quiet for a minute. It's certainly not because I haven't been working on my passion project - quite the opposite. I've been spending time building my community; starting and contributing to much-needed conversations around inclusion and diversity.
Sometimes you let yourself get so wrapped up in your work that you forget to step back and reflect on all your accomplishments. I often encourage the women I meet and interview for Our Mosaic Lives to do just that. Now, I'm taking my own advice!
Reflecting ON a YEAR OF PROGRESS
If there was a theme for 2019, it would be Collaboration. For every accomplishment, there was a community partnership or collaboration that made it possible. It reinforced to me that my central message and life philosophy "Better Together" (#btr2gthr) is how we move forward, make change and see real results.
I presented my "Our Mosaic Lives – Celebrating Black Canadian Women and Girls" exhibit in partnership with The City of Barrie/Creative Barrie. My interviews with Black Canadian women, explored diversity, inclusion and belonging through their shared views and lived experiences. The resulting portraits, poetry, and motivational graphic elements were displayed at Barrie City Hall in January, Barrie Public Library during February and March, and The YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka for April.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH KICK-OFF
As Community changemakers Shelly Skinner and I organized and presented "Making Change Black History Month Kick-off" in Barrie. Showcasing speakers, artists, musicians and poets from Simcoe County, the collaborative event highlighted the role of diversity and inclusion in honouring the past, embracing the present and supporting the future. In partnership with The City of Barrie, Making Change also supported The YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka Newcomer Services.
As a community, there’s work to be done to embrace diversity and become fully inclusive. To spark discussions and drive change, I launched a quarterly interview series called “Community Conversations” in March in partnership with the Barrie Public Library. Kicking off the series, I was interviewed about Our Mosaic Lives. Then I interviewed Irfan Toor in June and Andrea Murray in September. ROGERStv Barrie filmed and broadcasts the series. A mini-art exhibit was also displayed monthly.
This year was full of public speaking opportunities and media interviews. I spoke at Barrie City Hall opening the Art Exhibit; at Making Change to kick off Black History Month; led Community Conversations; as guest speaker for a sociology course Georgian College classroom; and presented with Caring Concerts at Fred C. Cook Public School. I was interviewed by CBC Ontario Morning, CTV2, Barrie Today, Barrie Advance, Rock95/Kool FM, Fresh Radio 93.1, and featured on ROGERStv Barrie.
Realizing how much I benefited from connecting with local Black women, when friends asked me if there was a group or meet up, it was the perfect invitation to launch Black Coffee.
This casual group for local Black women to connect with each other, share ideas and build community meets once a month - yes, over coffee. We have a lot of like interests, experiences, hopes and dreams. We're making new friends and collaborating on Black History Month activities in Simcoe County.
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION COLUMN
I successfully pitched writing a monthly race and identity column representing conversations and viewpoints of Simcoe County residents from marginalized populations. Diversity in our region is statistically lower than both the Ontario and the national average, but is changing in some communities more than in others. The missing piece is regularly hearing voices and thoughts on what it takes for true inclusion - a mature understanding and appreciation of each others’ differences as making the whole community stronger - versus merely “tolerating” each other.
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS
I'm so excited to be one of the top 3 finalists in the Blogger category in the 2019 ByBlacks People's Choice Awards. I''m so grateful for all the nominations from people who think my work should be recognized. It would truly be an honour to receive the award, so please click this link to vote for me - as many times as you want - once a day until midnight January 1st.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR 2020?
ART EXHIBIT: Celebrating Black Canadian Women and Girls - Innisfil ideaLAB &Library (Jan & Feb- also includes new portraits)
COMMUNITY PANEL: Open to Change- Innisfil ideaLAB &Library (Jan 29 @7:30 pm)
COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS: Better Together - Barrie Public Library (Feb 24 @7:30 pm)
COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS: Making Change - Barrie Public Library (May 25@7:30 pm)
COLUMN: Diversity & Inclusion Opinion - monthly in Simcoe.com publications
All the inspirational featured women and girls 2019 (Maria, Nana aba, Jules, Sade, Rita, Rhiannon, Shanicka, Anne Marie, Dominique, Deanne, Angel, Amber, Jennifer, Andrea, and Michelle)
Community Conversations interviewees and helpers (Beth Foster, Irfan Toor, Andrea Murray)
Community partners (Barrie Public Library, Creative Barrie, City of Barrie, YMCA Simcoe Muskoka, Girls Stand Tall, Caring Concerts, Shelly Skinner and Rogers TV Barrie)
Sponsors and supporters (Amica Little Lake, Allegra Printing and Marketing Barrie, Konvo Media and Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman)