I was born and raised in…..Ottawa.
And I currently live in …Toronto- I moved here three years ago. Ottawa will always be close to my heart, but I have always felt more in my element in big cities. In Toronto I find more like-minded people, more vibrancy and excitement, and opportunities that interested me. Toronto is where I thrive and where I am endlessly inspired by brave organizers, unapologetic artists, and brilliant people masterfully occupying radically different spaces–whether in government, the arts, corporate, politics, or non-profit. Prior to moving to Toronto, I had spent time living in Quito and Mumbai. Every time I moved back to Ottawa I was happy to be surrounded by family and friends, but it became increasingly apparent to me that it was time to move on. I defend Ottawa to those who call it a boring, government city because it is so much more. But Toronto is home.
Diverse leadership is important because…it’s tantamount to effectively addressing our city’s problems. Without leaders who intimately understand our city’s diverse issues, we can’t expect to design the right solutions. Both lived experience and expertise will be vital to building a more equitable and resilient city.
The issues in our region that keep me up at night are…I’m concerned about the well-being of our most marginalized populations that deal with the intersecting issues of racism, poverty, and more–including and not limited to our Indigenous, LGBTQ2S, racialized, and disabled community members. On a professional level and because of the very personal ways I am affected, I have lately particularly been losing sleep over Islamophobia and anti-Black racism. I am thinking about how we can all take action to support and amplify the efforts of those doing this work and living these experiences.
One thing I do to ensure I continue to grow and develop as a leader is…pause and listen closely. I have one of 6.5 million experiences in the GTHA and it’s deeply important that my leadership and voice aren’t presumptuous. There are times we all need to sit back, listen, and learn.
To me, an inclusive city/region/GTHA looks like…a city in which we don’t automatically associate particular communities with people of particular races and incomes It looks like a city whose discourse is most preoccupied with issues affecting our most vulnerable communities. It looks like a place where we have the same experiences with law enforcement, regardless of our race, class, and gender.