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Building Brave and Great Space: You Belong Here

June 1st (next week!) marks the beginning of Pride Month and I wanted to use these few paragraphs to acknowledge this and talk a bit about how we can build better communities by a commitment to being better allies. My hopes is that by reading this, you can find a place to simply begin. I can tell you firsthand that I get it wrong, a lot. However, I am committed to learning and growing and as Dr. Maya Angelou said, “when we know better we do better”.

So what are brave spaces? What does it mean to be an ally? And what the heck is so important about pronouns? I am going to do my best to touch on these but I will tell you this, I am going to start in the area that I am more an “expert”, and that is privilege.  I am a white, cis gendered, settler Canadian. I have grown up seeing myself in movies and stories, in magazines, in leadership roles and in higher education. People often correctly assume my pronouns and those of my spouse. 

Where can you begin?

I am a firm believer that when we do not know where to begin, start with our self and start within our homes. Do what we can in our small spaces in this world, the impact will be greater than we think. Michelle Obama talked about this is in her most recent book when she shares “when the world goes big, we can go small”. All or something goes a long way in brave spaces. 

Start with understanding your privileges. There are so many exercises to do this, but I found the Flower of Power to be the most visual. I have linked it here. If you’re comfortable, do this and then share it in your home or your work spaces. 

Start using pronouns and stop assuming other’s pronouns. Just ask. For yourself, add your pronouns in your email tag line- this creates an awareness and also let’s other’s know that you are a safe space. As for other’s, you can simply ask for their pronouns when you ask their name. Something I am constantly working on is replacing “you guys” with “you folks”. Like I said, I am always learning and I am constantly messing up.

Educate yourself. Too often we are looking to the most marginalized to teach us about their lived experiences. This is not okay and results in more unpaid labour. Do the work yourself. OUT Saskatoon has incredible resources. I have linked one on Allies and Solidarity here. There are so many great children’s books— if it is in the budget, add one to the bookshelf. Our local libraries have also created beautiful reading guides and the Librarians will be more than willing to help. Be ready for these important conversations and learn WITH our kids. They are our beautiful future. 

Attend local events. If you want to see love and inclusion, attend your local pride parade. Simply attending is not a checkbox action to “becoming an Ally” but it is about creating awareness and celebrating diversity. Just google the city you live in and pride and so many wonderful activities will come up. Many are family friendly and I can say that our kids have had the best times. 

Support businesses supporting inclusivity and the 2SLGBTQ communities. Meaning, if you want that cute rainbow shirt, do your research. Old Navy and Walmart are capitalizing on marginalization and giving NOTHING back. Buy from places who are giving back— wearing a rainbow is not enough.

So with that, I leave you with a few links to do some of the work. Invest your time into learning about members of our community and how you can actively take steps, everyday, to be an Ally. With the world literally at our finger tips, ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse. This is you invitation to build a better world, one where everyone belongs. 



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