Bridges of Belonging is an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations on belonging and how it impacts our individual and collective journeys. Moderated by Andrea Carey, a Canadian Certified Inclusion Professional, these sessions will showcase the stories of leaders from all sectors in sharing their stories of belonging through their lived experiences. We are surrounded by diversity, and there is increasing appreciation that we need to create inclusive spaces and places in order to support the success of our diverse workforces and clients - but until we find ways to creates cultures where each person can belong, we will struggle to support people to thrive.
These conversations are an opportunity to think about our connections – and how we can be intentional in appreciating each other, listening to understand, acknowledging that we don’t know what we don’t know, and going on a learning journey together to share, learn, connect, and create.
After 32 episodes hosted on zoom, we've moved to Twitter Spaces!
We are excited for the evolution of Bridges of Belonging and to bring these discussions to you in a more interactive way.
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Nate Riech and Tara Llanes exemplify resilience. Their journeys of belonging are inextricably linked to their injuries and their quest for excellence in sport. Discovering their paths to belonging has been connected deeply with their journeys that their injuries created in learning about their own strength, resilience, and finding themselves and what they each need to support owning their story. Both Nate and Tara are incredibly driven people, and sport has been a place where they thrive because they can drive themselves in an environment that requires a singular focus on that singular goal and measure of success. The world of sport has also provided them a rich opportunity to be part of a team, to connect with coaches and other athletes – and to support their places of belonging. The Paralympic system has held tensions for both of them, for Nate becoming a Paralympic athlete meant that he had to accept himself as someone with a disability – which has allowed him to dominate his classification and led to a gold medal in Tokyo. For Tara, wheelchair sports has been a place where she found belonging from the time of her injury, and now as the sport of wheelchair basketball evolves, it has gone from a place of inclusion to a sport that is excluding participants because of changes in classification and that is creating a complex relationship for her in how she navigates her place of belonging within that going forward.
Navigating Safety as a Path to Belonging Nesreen Ali and Marika Warner have each experienced moments of belonging and not belonging, but these experiences have shaped their drive to leave the world better than they found it through leadership and social justice. Both guests have lived in a world that hasn’t appreciated their identities, a world that is created to harm racialized women. They have each experienced those harms, and have had to find their ways through trying to “fit in” to find their sense of worth and their places of belonging. Their challenges in navigating through this has ignited their passion to create physically, mentally and emotionally safe places for each person to show up. “I have experienced lots of pain. I have learned to let that pain live in the world instead of inside of myself.” – Marika Warner “Your life is your justice. You need to determine what legacy you want to leave.” – Nesreen Ali
Amrit Gill and Randip Janda may have forged different paths to get to their roles at Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi, but their participation in the show has given them a space to be themselves, and re-connect with their communities, and have greater pride in their heritage. Now, their work transcends outside of the Punjabi community. By staying true to themselves and being their authentic selves, Randip and Amrit have created more spaces for the South Asian community to connect to sport and build greater opportunities to inspire and lead future generations while celebrating the Punjabi communities. Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi has been a platform for sharing their culture within the Punjabi community and now in their other media roles also bringing that to the English speaking community, they are building understanding of our commonalities while celebrating our differences. They know representation matters, and they are role models for the next generation. Their work is about telling the stories that haven’t been told and in doing so creating spaces for diversity in sports media and throughout hockey. Each of them believe that hockey has been a conduit for them to belong, and to create belonging.
If we begin with the premise that there is enough space for everyone, and that in just being you, you are enough then that creates the opportunity for each to belong. Ness Murby and Cynthia Watson navigated their journeys of belonging with grace, vulnerability, wisdom, and courage throughout this conversation. Belonging can be defined by congruency with your values. We shouldn't need to "define" ourselves and our identities, we should validate every experience simply because it is the lived experience of that person. There is a grey zone - always - and embracing it removes the suffering of trying to fit into systems and structures, or the dichotomies - people are not meant to fit in boxes. A key lesson out of this session was to encourage people who are putting up barriers to stop being the obstacle in someone's way, to explore multiple choices of how this could be navigated, and to understand what the cost is to the change that is being sought.
Actions speak louder than words
Chief Lara Mussell Savage and Darrell Fox have each experienced belonging and not belonging in different ways, but their connection comes from a shared focus on action over words. Lara’s connection to the Sqwa Nation and her role now as elected Chief has provided her a unique perspective in growing up in a world where she continually faced racism. Darrell is exploring his Metis background as his family learns more about their grandmother’s background and the influence that learning their history is having on his journey. We shared about the opportunity of connection and in how we show up to learn through the co-creation of experiences, programs and services. They both strongly identified around the opportunity to create “with” rather than “for” and the power that has to bring people together. Their experiences have taught them courage, determination and how to lead others to create change in their communities. While Darrell and Lara both identify as introverts, their quiet strength provides space to others to feel empowered and use their voice for good.
Getting a seat at the table isn’t a new conversation. Dr. Guylaine Demers and Dr. Jennifer Walinga may have had unique opportunities thanks to their involvement in high-level sports, but having their voices heard didn’t always come automatically. Their experiences and journeys of not belonging have laid the foundation for their careers in gender equity, leadership, and education, helping to give back and elevate future sport leaders and create spaces of belonging in our ever-changing world.
Joy over anything else. Trans athletes and activists Chris Mosier and Harrison Browne share their experiences of coming out as transgender in their sport and how positive support from their teammates gave them the courage to be their authentic selves. Now as leaders in sport and the arts, Chris and Harrison continue to work to celebrate the joy, magic, and power that comes with being your true selves while working to build better, more inclusive spaces for others to belong.
“I may live elsewhere, but my heart will always belong in Kimberley.”
Often the stories of belonging can be routed in the people, communities and spaces where people come together and lift each other up. The City of Kimberley, BC. isn’t built solely on land and mountains, but on community and spirit as well. Whether you’re like Josh Dueck, who grew up in the city, or like Bruce Kirkby who has chosen to make the city his home, there is a strength and resiliency that has been instilled in both guests that has opened new experiences, moments and opportunities to create spaces of belonging. The two share a passion for the outdoors and for adventure but are also connected through their belief in learning about differences, in rooting themselves in empathy, vulnerability and humility.
Belonging: It’s more than a feeling. We all have a responsibility to show up and create space for each other. Not only is it important to understand how we can elevate others to succeed, but also understand and reflect on the values that are important to us and how those values can support what we need and how we do it. Coming from a place of authenticity and vulnerability, our guests Aly Virji and Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek share the strategies they've used at different points to discover what belonging truly means to them, and how that feeling gives them strength and power.
February is the month of love. Love can mean many things, including compassionate learning and using our owned experiences to give space for other people to grow. Tammy Tsang and Jeff McLean are each using their marketing expertise to support INclusion for the industries they serve and have made it their mission to increase representation for all cultures and people, whether that be through business strategies, communication methods, and even a roll of hockey tape. Their messages of social engagement, support, love and allyship amplify the stories of the communities and partners they serve; intentionally creating a more accepting and INclusive world.
I see you, I hear you, and you matter. Senator Chantal Petitclerc and Angie Abdou discussed how important it is to continually learn, grow, and develop yourself and your capacities to support those around you if we want to build a better world together. Through their public facing roles, they are each working to create spaces and places that support others to be the best they can be. In this episode, both guests talked about the people who made a difference for them - teachers and coaches, who brought them in, who showed them how to be a positive and supportive leader, and what a tremendous impact that had on their journeys of belonging, and the role model that provided for how they now lead forward.
The How and Why Of What We Do
Emily Glossop and Todd Nicholson have lived more lives than most, they have faced tragedies and triumphs, including the loss of their house to a tornado. Through it all, their desire to be involved and support the people in their communities has been a constant, their dedication to giving back and addressing inequities and fairness has been their opportunity to build a better world. While belonging for some can mean a specific place, Emily and Todd have found belonging in the friends and people who have lent a hand and shown their support and created a team that extends outside of four walls