While I’ve spent quite some time seeing Heather’s work from afar as she raises her family with a global awareness and appreciation for the diverse world around them, we’ve only crossed paths once — at a Montecito dinner with Steve Carlisle, General Motors Canada’s GM Canada’s President and Managing Director. She was great company, and I knew I had to include her in Tales from the 2.9!
Heather’s submission looks at the need for communities to support from within, taking the lessons learned individually and teaching peers to improve life for everyone.
It’s a good read — make sure you check it out below!
1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?
I think about people like Mary Ann Shadd and Lincoln Alexander. People who followed passions and benefitted an entire nation.
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?
It’s true that a lot of what we learn about Black history comes from the USA and while that story is fascinating (and ongoing) it’s one most Black Canadians can only relate to tangentially. My experience as a Black person in Canada? Hard to sum up. I love this country. I’ve never felt anything other than belonging. The few negative race interactions I’ve had have been easily attributed to particular people or institutions but on a whole I feel very connected to my fellow Canadians. I’m proud of my ancestry, my heritage and my birthplace and I feel lucky to live in a country that is, for the most part, proud of it too.
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
I believe strongly in following your passion and sharing the lessons we learn to help each other. That’s what I try to do and what I try to teach my kids. I hope to be a part of large group of people doing exactly that so that the impression we leave together can’t be boiled down to my one step. It’s one of the reasons I love new media and the opportunity to hear (read) so many new voices. I think we all want the same things in life and it’s great to live in a time when more and more of that unifying call can be heard.
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?
I’d have to say my parents. They are Jamaican immigrants who came to this country, worked hard and still found time to go to parent-teacher meetings. I’ve never in my life felt like they didn’t have my best interests at heart. That’s a powerful foundation to work from. Their parables and stories and example have been my most powerful teachers.
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
Live YOUR life. Yours. Not the one people think you should have or the one you’ve seen others live. Follow your passions. Build your dreams. Find your tribe and get the support you need to make them a reality. And then do it. And love it. And be happy.
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!