Category Archives: Inclusive Leaders in Action

We Do Not Have to Start Big to Touch Lives

I am Chuks Okoriekwe, a lawyer in Nigeria who loves adventure. This photo was taken at the McKinney Roughs Natural Park in Cedar Creek, Texas when I visited Austin, Texas last year. I consider myself a social engineer using the instrument of the law to heal and transform societies, one at a time.

Growing up in a family of seven has taught me to appreciate bonds in family, devotion and looking out for people. I have learned to appreciate the little I have without losing sight of striving for something better. In the process, I have also learned that looking out for others could be soothing.

My goal, in taking the “Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential” Online course, is forming a bond to heal the world of hate, discrimination and violence through love, kindness and affection. I am also taking an Earth Charter Leadership course. The Earth Charter has been a very valuable document in preserving the earth. If only all its principles could be implemented, we’d have a more sustainable place to live in.

I found the introductions in the First Module of the course to be indeed inspiring. For example, Paul Atsu’s strides in innovation for agribusiness business are enlightening and worthy of emulation. I’m also impressed with Stanley Daniel’s efforts at revitalizing his indigenous language in Canada. Indigenous languages are at the brink of extinction if not passed on to the next generation. Similar challenges are faced in Africa (due to the adoption of ‘western’ culture) but gradually we are seeing a new wave of young and dynamic people promoting the sustainability of the language culture. Young people are blazing the trail in providing solutions to the problems facing the world today.

The next module in the Inclusive Leadership course described the Building Bridges steps which are never ending. One must continue to build bridges across to those we consider different from us. It is never enough to allow societal prejudices define a set of people. We must all understand that first and foremost, we are all human and no one made a choice of where or how to be born. One of my fellow participants, Graham Fielding shared how he used to believe that “someone would always be there to care of issues when they arise.” He is not alone in these thoughts. I was once that way, believing this myth without the urge to be an active participant in changing what I felt strongly against in my own little way.

I would say that my ‘transformation’ started as an undergraduate law student, when we were exposed to series of challenging national issues including violations of human rights at various levels despite legal safeguards. People were either unaware of these safeguards or were not informed enough to take action. At that point, I realized that it wasn’t enough to simply sit back in my comfort zone whilst others continue to suffer deprivation. More so, if nothing was done, the challenge would soon become a leviathan consuming anything and everything on its path.

It is particularly striking to see young people who have been awaiting trial for years in prisons without their cases being called up in court. Some have also spent more years than they would have served if convicted for the alleged offence(s). All these were due to the slow pace of the justice system. In Nigeria, judges are overwhelmed with the number of cases.

To become a solution which I desired and understanding that I’ve been armed with the knowledge of the law, I joined forces with some friends (at different levels) and we carried out human rights sensitization exercises. We also offered pro-bono ‘legal’ assistance to those who couldn’t afford the services of legal practitioners. One of the strategies we used was to create a radio drama series in pidgin-English (first of its kind!) to educate as well as entertain people on their rights and corresponding obligations (what they need to do when their rights are infringed).

Our little efforts recorded some successes! In addition to our regular pro-bono advisory services we offer to indigent people, we were able to secure the release of two inmates who were unlawfully detained. For me and my colleagues the joy we derived in seeing smiles on the faces of people being reunited with their loved ones was enough compensation for our time and resources spent on the project.

This story is a pointer to the fact that we do not have to start big to touch lives. If we could each decide to take action in our little ways, we’ll cause enough ripple that will change the course of history. I hope to share more of my stories and adventures with everyone while participating in the Inclusive Leadership Community.

You Matter To Me

submitted by Stan Daniels

A bullet would be a kinder death.

In this day and age social media is so accessible and we can post anything and say anything. People often don’t realize just how much impact their words can have on another person.  Although you do not die physically from words spoken, some folks actually die in spirit, and it grows and grows for a lot of folks to the point that people aren’t living anymore. Resigned to a life of depression and isolation, or anxiety. Living whole lives not feeling connected: folks turn to alcohol and drugs to help sooth the pain.

I do not condone violence or gun violence in anyway, especially in light of all the violence down south. And it’s precisely because of how reckless people are with weapons, that I draw my comparison to guns and words. People use their words as weapons. And just as recklessly. And so in desperation and hopelessness, I ask , would a bullet be kinder?

Definitely not. But whereas a bullet may kill instantly, the pain from words can last a lifetime. How many of us remember the first time we were called ugly or stupid or fat or dumb or worthless or useless. The words and feelings stuck.

But just as negative words can stick, so can words of love and hope. Every day as conversations of unity and Secwepemc unity are thrown around I ask :
What does unity look like ?
What does unity look like for the Secwepemc Nation?
What does unity look like for my Canim Lake community?
What does unity look like for my family ?

I know that with the compassionate communication involved in being an Inclusive Leader, unity includes:

  • Being heard.
  • Being included .
  • Recognizing differences as strengths.
  • Recognizing individual differences as a collective strength.
  • Having respect for one another.
  • Having integrity.
  • Building trust.
  • Being there and showing up.

It is with the intention of ensuring everyone feels heard and included that I do all my work. Letting everyone know that they matter and their voice and story deserves to be heard , that I support everyone , not just some. I see people of all status and power levels as the same. I would hope my kindness shows up the same in every interaction. We tend to see folks through lenses and forget that we are all human and have very human needs, and everything we do serves those needs.

It hurts me to see our folks so divided, but it also excites me. In challenging situations, there is an opportunity. At the end of the day, we are all human, and we need more folks encouraging one another than criticizing each other. Light is more powerful than darkness Love is more powerful than hate. Give peace a chance. Let go of what does not serve you. When we talk about community development, unity , governance , self governance, administration or anything involving people please consider this first : E kwenmintmes es tsilems…Tsuk ren tsetswe7 me7 nekenwentmes. – if it is to be, it is up to me . Good policy begins in the home.

Be the change you wish to see in the world 🙂

(Stan has been involved in the Inclusive Leadership Community for over 15 years now, since the age of fourteen. He is a member of the Tsqescen community in the Shuswap Nation, British Columbia, Canada. He is a currently a student of Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, studying Chemical Addictions Counselling.  He has three siblings, is the uncle of two beautiful nieces and family is VERY important to him. Stan is participating and mentoring in the “Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential Online Course”)

Welcome Joy Emmanuel: Summer ILC Co-ordinator!

Our wonderful Joy Emmanuel will be co-ordinating the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative for the summer while Linda Hill takes a break to spend time with family and do some travelling.

Joy is the perfect person for this challenge! She was the Co-op Developer who guided the founding members of the ILC through the process of becoming a Community Service Co-operative in 2013. She felt so at home with our vision, mission, values and practices that she joined our association and has been sharing leadership in cultivating the ILC ever since.

Joy’s experience as a co-operator and her understanding of the ILC from the grass roots up and from the inside out, is making the transition smooth and easy. Joy facilitated our Spring Update Sharing Circle on April 28 and is helping with organizing our online Heart to Heart Sharing Circle coming up Saturday May 5 9:45 am to 11:30 am Pacific Time (4:45 to 6:30 pm Co-ordinated Universal Time). New and experienced Inclusive Leaders from around the world are invited. Simply email Joy at and Harriet at for the url address and other directions on how to drop in.

Joy and Harriet will be co-facilitating an eight week ILC Online Practice Group beginning Thursday May 3. There is still room for a few more Inclusive Leaders to join this weekly zoom video meeting from 8 am to 10 am Pacific Time (3 pm to 5 pm Co-ordinated Universal Time). Join new and experienced Inclusive Leaders from across Canada and around the world in cultivating your Inclusive Leadership skills through sharing, listening and practicing. . Click here for more information and to register.

Joy has three more things to co-ordinate this summer. To learn how you can become involved, email Joy at

1. The ILC has been invited to join with Cowichan Intercultural Society, schools and NGOs in our local Cowichan Valley community in Canada in “The Inclusion Project.” TIP aims to build inclusive and welcoming bridges between students who are transitioning from small elementary schools to a larger high school. One goal is to build safe, respectful, peaceful and enjoyable relationships between  Indigenus students and Non-indigenous students.  Thank you to Project Co-ordinator, Linda McDaniels of the Cowichan Intercultural Society for inviting the ILC to work with you on this exciting initiative. (Linda McDaniels is also a founding member of the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative).

2. Joy will be reaching out to invite you and other new and experienced Inclusive Leaders to bring your families, friends, colleagues, students, volunteers and other champions of diversity and inclusion to come to our Sept 28 to 20 annual Inclusive Leadership Co-operative gathering for 1, 2, or all 3 days. Joy says, “One of my take-aways from the weekend is just how amazing each of us are when we have the opportunity to show up in a space of respect, openness and support and share our stories. The gifts of our lives can really shine through.” Register online or email Joy at for more information.

3. Contact Joy at if you would like the ILC to facilitate an Inclusive Leadership workshop for your organization, community group or school during Fall 2018 or Spring 2018. Trained and experienced ILC facilitators will guide your group to explore and develop skills for connecting with differences, communicating with compassion, responding with Anti-Discrimination First Aid and Building Bridges to equality. These are essential skills for everyone who wants to live, learn and lead more inclusively in our diverse communities.

“Inclusive Leadership is a crash course on community and possibility that I love being part of. I’ve been trying to work Inclusive Leadership skills into everything I do with Youth 4 Diversity and trying on ways of facilitating modeled by many Inclusive Leaders. Every time I do that, I see a glimpse of possibility – even if it’s brief – of the compassionate world we are trying to create.” (Moss Dance, Youth Worker, Campbell River, BC)

“Inclusive Leadership is a strength-based focus where there is appreciative inquiry into group or community strengths. Inclusive Leadership focuses on what gives life to community-building, communicating needs and solutions. It gives a community a positive, solution-focused way of problem-solving. It brings people of all ages to the table, circle or forum. It celebrates what works, and gives room for dreaming, designing and celebrating.” (Wedlidi Speck, Director of Aboriginal Service Change, Government of BC)

Inclusive Leadership has been incredibly instrumental in our school’s connectedness and our students’ and staff commitments to social and environmental responsibility.” (Gillian Berry, School Counsellor, Duncan, BC)


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.

Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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.” Continue reading

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?” Continue reading