Fostering Unity in Diversity: Embrace, Empower, Evolve
Why do we need D,E & I
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are not mere buzzwords; they are essential principles that hold profound significance for individuals, institutions, and organizations alike. At the individual level, DE&I promote a sense of belonging, respect, and acceptance, allowing each person to fully express their unique identity and experiences without fear of discrimination. This fosters personal growth, empathy, and cultural awareness, enriching our lives and enhancing our ability to collaborate effectively in an increasingly interconnected world.
For institutions, embracing DE&I is a hallmark of progress and adaptability. It cultivates a diverse talent pool, drawing from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, which can lead to more innovative problem-solving and decision-making. Institutions that prioritize DE&I demonstrate their commitment to fairness and social responsibility, building trust with stakeholders and earning a reputation as forward-thinking and inclusive organizations. On a broader scale, organizations that champion DE&I benefit from increased creativity, employee engagement, and customer loyalty. Inclusive workplaces not only attract top talent but also retain it, reducing turnover and associated costs. Furthermore, embracing diversity allows organizations to tap into untapped markets and tailor their products and services to a broader and more diverse customer base, ultimately boosting competitiveness and sustainability.
Shanese Anne Indoowaaboo Steele is an Afro-Indigenous femme living and working on the
traditional territories of the Missauagek and Potwatomi people. Being Métis Kwe
and a Black person of Trinidadian and Carriacou descent she understands the complexities
of the diasporic experiences of visitors to these lands in relation to the original inhabitants.
Her work includes both traditional knowledge from her Métis Anishinaabe ancestors and community as well as her Black ancestry.
Shanese’s work is about building bridges between Black and Indigenous peoples living on Turtle Island and Globally, Supporting LGBTQAI2S+ community, advocating for victims of intimate partner and violence and creating space and opportunities for all marginalized communities. All of her work comes from a decolonial, Queer, feminist and pro-Black framework.
Shanese has worked with social justice organizations and in other equity related roles including The Toronto District School Boards Aboriginal Education Center in various capacities engaging Indigenous youth; sat on the planning committee that resulted into the First Nations School of Toronto; Métis Nation of Ontario Infinite Reach facilitator for Trent University; served as a Co-President of the Trent University Native Association; the national chair for Canadian Federation of Students Circle of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students; and the North American Focal Point for the United Nations Global Indigenous Youth Caucus.
My primary goal during my workshops is ensuring that at least one individual leaves with a sense of personal growth and newfound knowledge..
Where to start?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) work is a deeply personal journey that begins with self-awareness and the willingness to unlearn deeply ingrained biases and prejudices. To truly embrace diversity and foster equity and inclusion, one must first embark on the path of self-reflection and self-education. Learning begins with unlearning preconceived notions and stereotypes, which can be achieved through reading, actively listening to diverse perspectives, and engaging in continuous learning. It is through this process of self-discovery and humility that individuals can dismantle their own biases and prejudices, laying the foundation for meaningful change and the promotion of DE&I principles within their personal lives and broader communities.
Trying to build?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) work is not a one-time event but an ongoing, evolving journey. It’s crucial to recognize that one workshop or training session is just the beginning, providing a foundational understanding. Achieving a truly equitable future requires continuous commitment and effort. Progress in DE&I is built upon the accumulation of knowledge, experiences, and actions over time. It involves actively seeking out opportunities for growth, expanding one’s perspective, and applying lessons learned to create lasting change. The path toward equity demands a dedication to constant self-improvement and a collective commitment to building upon the foundation of understanding and empathy that is developed through ongoing learning and engagement.