With everything that’s kept me busy of late, it feels like a lifetime age where Tash and I first crossed paths, somewhere back in 2012, me a fledgling lifestyle blogger spending more time winning swag and hitting every party I could find, and Tash like a wiser cousin who knew there were far better things to invest our efforts in.
Years later, I’m a Dad of two who’s slowed his roll to strive for something a little more permanent, and Tash is out east in her home province of Nova Scotia transforming lives one conversation at a time with a focus on health and wellness.
Tash’s submission for the Tales from the 2.9 touches on a sore truth about life as a Black person in today’s North America — that despite the horrors of our collective history, putting all of our energy into lamenting the past will only take us so far. We need to actively build a better present so that we can give our kin a better starting point for their futures.
Check out some of Tash’s East Coast experiences and sensibilities below!
Tash Jefferies is an African Nova Scotian woman who has dedicated her work and life to helping people live healthy, vibrantly, fully self-expressed, and true to who they are.
Her work includes public speaking, teaching, and consulting in the areas of healthy living, social media management, entrepreneurship, personal branding, stress management and sustainability.
1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?
I’d like to see Black History Month transform, from solely talking about stories of those from 100+ years ago, to starting to usher in the successes of the current generations, those African Canadians doing cutting edge research, technologies and non-stereotypical media development. That means, I’m still in search of my modern and relatable icons.
2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?
I’ve had more than enough confrontational experiences with my brothers and sisters south of the border because many of them can’t envision a lack of the overt, constant forms of racism in everyday life. I must admit, I have been very blessed in that I have not encountered very many instances of those kinds of struggles – in my educational, professional or even entrepreneurial experiences. If anything, I’ve learned to embrace my robust history, culture and legacy and allow it to be a source of inspiration and creative energy for me.
On that same note, I truly believe that the experience of growing up as an African Canadian is very unique, in that those of us who come from indigenous Black communities have such multicultural backgrounds – Aboriginal, French, Latin American, Caribbean, and many others – identify with more than one ancestry. I am not just a Black Canadian, I am also part of the Metis community, and I’m sure there are still other roots that have yet to surface.
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
I truly hope that my voice will show the world that if “they” want to put me into a self-identified box (African Canadian, Metis Canadian, Female Entrepreneur, the list goes on), I REFUSE to fit into one, no matter what I do, where I go. I do my best to represent excellence and progression and positivity, period.
4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?
My biggest cultural mentor, without a doubt, was and still is my Mom. She taught me, since before I could fully speak, what it means to live with integrity, how to have resilience no matter what the world throws at you, and how to remain human with a strong sense of humour! She also taught me the importance of never feeling inferior because of where I came from, the colour of my skin, and how to always keep my self-confidence strong in any situation. All of those lessons have led me to have a life that I’m proud of, and where I feel I continue to grow and reach for the best experiences that life has to offer!
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
STOP holding on so strongly to the past. Acknowledge, value and cherish it for creating you, us and our vibrant history and culture. However, START creating a new future, with new possibilities, and create your own view of what the world has in store for you, us, and our next generation.
Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!