My Internship With the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative

submitted by Katie Sayers

My internship with the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative has been a powerful opportunity to work in unity with other leaders following a path toward common goals.  It is amazing how opportunities cross your path – just when you need them to. When we vision our goals, make steps in the direction of them, and keep ‘our eyes open’ to the possibilities that come before us – the path will be made clear.

In April 2017, one year ago this month, I was at a time in my life of transition and change, in many areas, one of them being my career. I was exploring what truly fit with my path of service in life and what was needed now. What was my next step? Community development, leadership training, and connecting people to their inner talents and capacities are all values that I strive to reflect in whatever I have chosen to do. I wondered how it would manifest at this stage in my life.

All the while pondering this, I was also volunteering with the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative (ILC); an incredible leadership training and development organization on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. The ILC draws people from diverse backgrounds together to build skills that truly equip each individual and community with the strengths to be leaders within themselves, and to be an example to others of what unity in diversity looks like. Ultimately, the community grows and develops through this individual and collective effort and capacity building.

Each time I participated in an Inclusive Leadership workshop or event such as Connecting With Differences, or Communicating with Compassion, or Anti-Discrimination First Aid I felt ‘lit up’ and inspired from the inside out. This education resonated with many of my deepest values that I wanted to bring forth and exemplify more in the world around me.

Little did I know, that at the same time, the ILC was also going through a time in the life of the organization of transition and change. The ILC was expanding from in-person workshops and events to introducing the world to Inclusive Leadership through online education. To help bring this vision into fruition, they offered me a paid internship in Inclusive Community Relations Building!

My official start date was April 18, 2017, one year ago this month. What a rewarding and exciting time! I was ‘jazzed’ to start work each day. The growing team of people that I had the gift to work alongside each day was amazing. Each week, Linda Hill, and I would meet to discuss how I was doing in dedicating time and energy to the achievement of my goals and to help create action plans for working toward them. Experienced Inclusive Leaders helped me to bring out my talents, coached me, held me accountable to my goals and encouraged me, through their example, to follow the path that was in my heart. Some of my goals, on my path to be a Community Relations Builder, were to develop and refine my own Inclusive Leadership skills, become skilled at facilitating Inclusive Leadership workshops in schools, and become skilled at mentoring new Inclusive Leaders online. What a gift that the personal goals that I had were in alignment with the goals of the organization – I truly felt blessed.

As the months went by, I reflected on my learning, and could see that the goals we had both set were being realized. There was a unity of work between myself and the ILC team with dedication to our vision. In October 2017, after months of working steadfastly, we launched our pilot of the Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential Online Course with 20 participants from Canada, England and Tunisia. I had the gift to be a participant as well as a mentor in this course that went off with flying colors! In addition, I was co-facilitating in-person Inclusive Leadership workshops in school and university settings. I became a confident Inclusive Leadership facilitator – Woohoo! And of course, all along the way, my own Inclusive Leadership Skills expanded and grew in ways that will continue to for years to come!

My internship ended two months ago. Soon another space will open up for another individual to have this incredible opportunity. Reflecting back on this experience has me feeling humbled and full of gratitude and joy. I worked alongside amazing community leaders, while also realizing all of the goals that we had initially set for the role of the Community Relations Builder! This showed me the power that can take place when there is unity in our work and within our goals.

As I will always be an Inclusive Leader, I look forward to volunteering for the ILC and re-connecting with some of you soon! For now, I carry this experience with me to guide my path of service. Inclusive Leadership is reflected in my work, my family life and community life. Thank you!

Spring 2018 Inclusive Leadership Co-operative Sharing Circles

Inviting you to TWO Spring 2018 Inclusive Leadership Sharing Circles

  • Gather in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada: Saturday, April 28. Arrive whenever you can from 2 pm to 8 pm Pacific Daylight Time. Hosted by Joy Emmanuel. And/or….
  • Gather from where ever you live in the world for an online sharing circle during our monthly Heart to Heart Compassionate Communication Cafe on Saturday, May 5. Hosted by Janice Milnerwood and Harriet Greenwood

Purpose: ILC Members, potential members and all Inclusive Leaders and supporters of the ILC are invited to gather face-to-face to share, catch up and have a rocking, fun-filled, heart-to-heart Inclusive Leadership sharing circle.

Our in person gathering will include a yummy pot-luck meal.

TWO WAYS TO SHOW UP AND PARTICIPATE (Come to one or both)

  • Saturday, April 28 In person Sharing Circle and Potluck in Duncan, BC, Canada
  • Saturday, May 5 Online Sharing Circle for Inclusive Leaders around the world.

DETAILS ABOUT SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2018

Pre-registration is required so that we know our numbers: Email inclusiveleaders@gmail.com

Facilitated by: Joy Emmanuel

Time: 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Come for a couple of hours or the whole time!

Place: Cowichan Green Community, Board Room, 360 Duncan Avenue, Duncan, BC.

Please bring:

  • Your contribution to our zero-waste pot-luck dinner.
  • (If possible) please bring a $ contribution of any amount to help cover the meeting costs
  • Bring your updates to share about how you have been living, learning and leading more inclusively in your diverse community.
  • We are also invited to bring our artistic contributions for displaying in our Compassionate Art Show

DETAILS ABOUT Sat, May 5 online Inclusive Leadership Heart to Heart Gathering

Facilitated by: Janice Milnerwood and Harriet Greenwood

Time: 9:45 am to 11:30 am Pacific Daylight Time (4:45 UTC/GMT).

Click here to convert to your local time zone.

If you want to drop in to our monthly Heart to Heart sharing circle, please email: inclusiveleaders@gmail.com for directions and the url address of our zoom meeting.

Click here for details and the agenda for our monthly Heart to Heart Cafe

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Here is the Agenda for the Sat, April 28th Sharing Circle

2:00 to 3:00  Join Rod Keays, pilot participants, and members of the Inclusive Leadership Practice Group to learn about Rod’s work to develop a course on Inclusive Masculinity that is informed by what he has learned through participating in Inclusive Leadership Education and Practice.

3:00 to 4:00 Social time with yummy potluck snacks.

4:00 to 5:45  Inclusive Leadership Updates. Facilitated sharing time and announcements about what’s coming up. 

6:00 to 7:30 Pot Luck (surprise) Dinner

7:30 to 8:00 Closing Circle (Anyone with a song, poem or short something they would like to share? Let Joy know.)

For our members, friends and other supporters who are not able to come in person:

(1) You can email your updates for us to share during the sharing time. Our email is: inclusiveleaders@gmail.com

(2) You can participate online via Zoom on Saturday, May 5 at 9:45 am (Pacific Daylight Time). For the url address and other directions for signing on, email:  inclusiveleaders@gmail.com

If you want to feel super prepared and super proud of all we have been up to since our visioning meeting in September 2107, go to our website and scroll through the weekly blog.

https://inclusiveleadershipco-op.org/

And go to our Facebook Page to scroll through the daily FB posts:

https://www.facebook.com/InclusiveLeadership/

And while you are there, please be sure to click on the like and follow links for our website and FB page.

Inclusion is When We Belong

submitted by Janice Maxwell

Melanie second from the left at age 10

If there is a movement afoot to build more inclusive and welcoming communities, then our family is a pioneering founder of that movement. Our journey began in 1979, when our daughter Melanie was born 10 weeks premature and developed cerebral palsy. For 38 years our focus has been on trying to get Melanie included. It was called integration at first. I remember the days when we asked people to “tolerate” persons with disabilities.  Melanie has been petted like a puppy, had her cheeks tweeked, referred to as “she” and “her” instead of by name. At one time Melanie told me she felt like people saw her as a bee; they seemed to want to swat her away and get her out of their space. It broke my heart.

Then we moved to inclusion and valuing diversity. I think it is improving. Once people connect with Melanie they enjoy her company. It takes a little extra effort to connect is all! Well worth it. We have lived through it all!

Because of these life-experiences, I expected to be exploring familiar territory in February 2018 when my husband Robert, our daughter Melanie and I attended an Inclusive Leadership Adventure Weekend on Vancouver Island BC, Canada hosted by an organization called the Inclusive Leadership Cooperative (ILC). However, I was also prepared to be disappointed. We have often felt that so many efforts to be inclusive and welcoming, even though well intentioned, might be missing the mark. Over the years Melanie has felt excluded in various situations that were described as inclusive.

It turns out that I enjoyed this weekend Inclusive Leadership Adventure so much that I feel inspired to take action to promote inclusion in a broader way. We felt important and included right from the start, from the minute our car pulled into the parking lot. The weekend was co-facilitated by a diverse team of already trained Inclusive Leaders. One of these Inclusive Leaders came to welcome us and offered to help and direct us as to how to get registered and find our rooms. Other techniques the ILC used that promoted inclusion were a thorough orientation. We were given a program/schedule. We were told the physical layout of the venues and the rules/guidelines. I thought to myself, “Here is a group of people who know – just like I know – how important it is to understand what is expected in new environments.” It is stressful to not know what is going to happen and what behaviors are expected. Welcoming committees are an important part of building inclusive and welcoming communities.

Although such a big deal was made out of allowing Melanie to attend regular school there was no welcoming committee. The deinstitutionalization of persons with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities was in process across Canada and some other parts of the world when Melanie was born. In 1985, she was the first student with multiple disabilities to go to regular public school in a typical classroom in Victoria, BC Canada. It seemed like we should be grateful that our daughter was allowed to attend. As you can see in this picture; she even received a special award in 1989 at BC Government House for being special enough and brave enough to go to school. Melanie was hugely labeled as ‘special’. Labeling someone “special” is not inclusive. We are all special. At the time my husband and I felt guilty that we rejected the “special” label. We swallowed the pain of what felt like patronization. We didn’t want Melanie to be ‘special.’ We wanted her to be included which is to feel important, respected and valued.

During the Inclusive Leadership Adventure we learned that many people feel excluded in mainstream settings. It is important to keep that in mind when building communities where everyone belongs as equals. An experiential approach was used to facilitate learning. I, like other human beings learn through emotional experience/process. When I feel it, I remember it.  I could feel the positive emotion and increased participation as people were feeling the inclusive atmosphere. We talked a lot about how to behave in ways that promote inclusion for all human beings regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, physical/mental ability, health status etc. Many participants shared that they feel comfortable and included when others notice /welcome them, listen, empathize, respect, accept, encourage, value and support. All of the exercises and activities during the weekend focused on practicing these skills. We practiced the skills we were learning with each other and outdoors in nature. We learned that the environment (plants/ animals) have value and importance when considering how to create an inclusive world.

Sometimes to remind myself what inclusion is. I describe what it is not. I am 68 years old now, and some of my most painful memories and poor performance are related to times when I felt “left out.” Excluded. Rejected. It felt terrible when I didn’t fit in with the group, community or workplace. People didn’t look at me. I was criticized and judged as being “not good enough.” I felt discouraged. My unique learning style was ignored. I wasn’t given time to practice what I was being taught. I had no control or autonomy. No one took time to ask me what I needed or how I felt. My opinion was never considered.

There are many everyday examples of exclusion. If the doctor’s office is not sharing why they are running late and how long it might take I feel unimportant. If the airport doesn’t explain why the flight is delayed, I feel like I don’t matter. When we pollute and avoid recycling garbage we are telling the environment that it isn’t important. If I feel excluded and undervalued, my hands shake and my mind goes blank. Sometimes, I retreat with a sick feeling in my gut. Other times, I get angry and lash out. Very few good things happen. I make more mistakes. It hurts.

Behind exclusion is aggression. Behind aggression are feelings of hurt, helplessness and fear. Chances are an aggressive person is not feeling included. In non-inclusive environments, I hear people being labeled as “behavior problems.” Sometimes people act out when they have difficulty communicating in the common verbal ways.

To help stop aggression we Inclusive Leaders must have the skills to allow people who are doing aggressive behaviors (acting out) to identify these feelings and acknowledge them. Behavior is communication. In many cases the causes of these feelings can be remedied by identifying/recognizing them, acknowledging, empathizing, making adjustments/amends and reconciling. Inclusive leaders look behind behavior to identify unique learning /communication needs. We accept and welcome alternate, augmentative communication styles and other languages.

Inclusion makes me feel like I belong. I feel valued and heard. It feels safe to ask for what I need. My human differences are accommodated and understood. Accepted. My creativity and best performance comes forth.

I enjoyed this weekend and left inspired to take action to promote inclusion in a broader way. I plan on checking to see if the persons in my presence feel important. Also, I am going to acknowledge nature in more ways. I plan to set an example by doing what I learned to do at this Inclusive Leadership training weekend.

Inclusion is contagious. There is a ripple effect. A few inclusive leaders can change the tone and improve quality of life in their families, community, workplaces and beyond.

Inclusive Leaders in Our Global Village: Spotlight on Alhassan Sesay

Alhassan Sesay is an Inclusive Leader from Sierra Leone with a calling is to help create a future that works for all of us in our precious planet. “We hope to have a common agenda in the fight against climate change and make our communities sustainable in the utilization of our natural resources in an environmentally friendly way so that development can reach the least man in society.”

Through his participation in our new online course, Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential, Alhassan and 18 more champions of diversity and inclusion from nine different countries are helping to build Inclusive Leadership into a global learning community. Alhassan shares, “I was surprised when I got a message from Inclusive Leadership that they are offering me a space to be part of the course and meet people from all over the world.”

Ahassan is participating in the Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential Online Course out of a deep concern for the people and places in Sierra Leone where he lives, works, volunteers, advocates and organizes. Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world and is on the front-lines of the drastic impact that climate change is having on people’s livelihoods in these already underprivileged communities. As these challenges began hitting community after community, Alhassan founded the Sierra Leone School Green Club (SLSGC) and became an ambassador for Green Campus Initiative Nigeria which is a focal point for the Citizen Climate Lobby Africa (CCL). Through these organizations he has become engaged in climate change sensitization and mitigation strategies across Sierra Leone. His work is informed and inspired by several global frameworks including the Earth Charter, the Young African Leader and the African Changemaker Initiatives and now Inclusive Leadership. “Since taking the Earth Charter Leadership Course in 2016, I am practicing all that I learned. Our vision is to see a greener sustainable environment for all the plant and animal inhabitants of planet earth, building the capacity of school pupils and community members in sustaining our environment.”

Alhassan’s approach to community-building integrates the pillars of the Earth Charter into farming projects that are based as much on enriching lives through joy and shared laughter as well as through meeting basic needs of food and shelter: “Presently we are working on a project called Songo Hamlet, Agricultural Fun Park, an integrated approach to building climate change resilience. The primary goal of the project is to eradicate global hunger and poverty in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner through local initiatives. The intention is to operate and manage a hamlet project that addresses hunger and poverty through the growing of crops, rearing of animals and an amusement park for touristic investment and nature. We’ve also established a swamp garden for youth to have a means of employment as a way to reduce crime in the Waterloo community. We’ve been successful in achieving grassroots participation in Climate Change resilience strategies. We’ve planted many trees in different communities. We work with youth in agribusiness. During World Earth Day in 2017, we organized a workshop titled Climate literacy and environmental outreach that brought together community leaders and stakeholders to teach them on the effect of climate change and environmental issues. On Mandela’s Day (18th July, 2017), we also organized a workshop and tree planting exercise at Huntingdon Secondary School, Freetown, Sierra Leone, which brought in more than 30 pupils and 10 teachers from different schools in the Western Rural District in Freetown.”

The first set of skills taught in the Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential Course are the Building Bridges steps. Alhassan is already familiar with the first step of networking. “From my end networking is one of the main tools a changemaker can make use off in creating a new future that works for all. There are some challenges though in keeping the relationship growing. In online relationships, internet connections are among the biggest challenges. For example, when when we have online sessions either via Zoom or webinar I am not able to attend because of the high bandwidth it requires.”

Most of the Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential takes place on websites that can be accessed with a computer or a mobile phone without using too much band-width. In the weeks ahead Alhassan and his fellow Inclusive Leaders will be exploring skills for connecting with differences, skills for communicating with compassion and skills for responding to injustice and mistreatment with Anti-Discrimination First Aid. They will be each be applying these skills to developing their own action plans for living, learning, and leading more inclusively in their diverse communities. We look forward to learning with and from Alhassan as we all make new discoveries about our potential to be Inclusive Leaders in our local communities where ever we live in the world.

To learn more about Alhassan Sesay’s leadership in Sierra Leone go to these links:

Sierra Leone School Green Club Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SLschoolgreenclubs/

Sierra Leone School Green Club Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/sierraleonesch1

Sierra Leone School Green Club Website: https://aalasesay.wixsite.com/slsgc

Inclusive Leaders in Our Global Village: Spotlight on Joanita Babirye

Submitted by Joanita Babirye

Hi Friends, I am Joanita Babirye from Uganda; a young and emerging leader supporting young undervalued women in the rural communities of Uganda. I am a recent graduate of urban and Regional planning and an environmental activist, so passionate about environmental and social justice. I love singing, story writing, playing the guitar, reading and listening to music. I am a jolly person!

I am always challenging myself in the need to change the world. My questions connected to Inclusive Leadership are: “How about if each and every person in areas such as Uganda undertook a basic course in understanding inclusiveness? Would learning about inclusion help with building the bridges between different people with different identities? Would we learn not to be harsh while connecting with different people? Would this lead to a society where everyone is welcomed?”

I have engaged with different community based organizations and Youth Agencies where I have served as both a peer educator and a youth advocate. I am a youth ambassador under Tunza Eco-generation and a Nile fellow leader.

I recently started up a Community Based Organization; Rainbow Smiles Foundation, to support young undervalued women who are victims of teenage pregnancies and child marriages. These girls have lost hope, respect and dignity. The response to cases of teenage pregnancies is to actually chase them out of home. When a girl is able to avoid being married off by force into a child marriage, they go into hiding or move to urban areas where they get involved in challenging activities to get a livelihood. They are discriminated by their families and societies that are pointing fingers at them; they feel they are worthless for any good thing in the community so they become vulnerable to more challenges.

The main focus of all the activities we are doing is restoring hope to these victims of teenage pregnancies and child marriages. Through home visits, teaching, counselling, livelihood projects, telling their stories for change, and reintegrating them with their families, we guide them in redefining their purpose and realizing their potential. We are rehabilitating a few who we feel are in urgent need. This approach involves so much time and effort from both the team and the girls themselves to realize their worth and close their ears to what society has conditioned them to be. We have many other activities that we hope to do, including a plan for a bigger rehabilitation center and plans for taking many girls back to school. (School of Vision) and these will be the voice to other girls in the different communities and so will be the fulcrum of change and inclusion.

I am so glad to be part of this Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential course and this international Inclusive Leadership Community. I am amazed by the enthusiasm here (and my expectations are so high!). I am eager to get to the upcoming modules as I enrich my knowledge and share my experiences further. In Module 2, we received a map of the field of Inclusive Leadership and journaled about our connections to this map. This activity has been thrilling. The entire map is so essential for our Inclusive Leadership journey. I am appreciating the processes of journaling and putting my whole understanding and feelings about this course into my daily life, and my life as a leader in my society.

The more I learn, the more I am realizing that education on inclusion is so important in areas like Uganda where there are various tribes. Each person is affiliated to a different tribe with little or no awareness about the need for inclusiveness among people. Most of the time people find it hard to connect with people that are not in their tribal affiliation and tend to misunderstand other people’s beliefs and affiliations, with some tribes describing themselves as superior to the others. It is so unfortunate that this is happening. The most striking part so far into the inclusive leadership course is the fact that I got to know that differences are actually gifts. I am hoping to learn a lot about Anti-Discrimination First Aid as I go further into this course!

I am also wondering about the questions I asked at the beginning of this article:

  • How about if each and every person in areas such as Uganda undertook a basic course in understanding inclusiveness?
  • Would learning about inclusion help with building the bridges between different people with different identities?
  • Would we learn not to be harsh while connecting with different people?
  • Would this lead to a society where everyone is welcomed?

I have partnered with a few of my friends on these goals and I am still looking for more to join the cause. Having many people speaking the same “Inclusive Leadership” language would actually be essential since with that we expect a bigger impact. Perhaps after attaining in depth knowledge through this course, I can definitely be a good Inclusive Leader! It is my hope that, in the long run, the marginalized/ undervalued girls will thrive to be inclusive leaders in their communities and change the narrative.

Connecting Kids: Exploring Diversity Together

Celebrate spring with your own copy of Connecting Kids: Exploring Diversity Together: our classic guide to engaging kids of all ages in collaboratively creating welcoming cultures of inclusion in classrooms, after-school programs and children’s groups of all kinds. Now in it’s fourth printing Connecting Kids is available as a bound printed book or a pdf e-book. All proceeds go to supporting children, youth and families to participate in our Sept 28 to 30, 2018 annual Inclusive Leadership Gathering.

Connecting Kids by Linda Hill makes diversity education with children as easy as Ready, Set, Go. Get ready by selecting a skill. Get set by selecting an activity.

Now GO exploring!

Continue reading

Voice of Women Peace Education Award Presented to Dr. Linda Hill

submitted by Linda Hill

I was thrilled to be one of five women honoured at the annual Canadian Voice of Women for Peace banquet in Toronto, March 8 2018. I received the The Dr. Anne Goodman Peace Education Award which is based on Anne’s commitment to peace-building and peace education that took her to Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Slovakia, Israel, Croatia and other countries. Anne’s view was that transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in thought, feelings and actions – and building strong relationships with each other. Anne believed that by working together we can create that culture of peace of which we dream. Continue reading