Racial Equity in the Workplace II: Video and Transcripts

Racial Equity in the Workplace II: Video and Transcripts

On Thursday, August 24, 2023, Calgary Arts Development held the second in a series of three virtual town halls focused on Racial Equity in the Workplace. Host Toyin Oladele had a conversation with guests Sue-Shane, Executive Director of Mountain Standard Time (M:ST), and Dan Cardinal McCartney, Assistant Director at Stride Gallery.

The conversation addressed BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour)-led arts organizations and some of the intentional policies and practices they have created and followed, and practical ways they support team members who are from visible minority groups, BIPOC communities or who represent any form of diversity.

Watch the video and read the transcript of the town hall below.

Racial Equity in the Workplace III, the next in this series of virtual town halls, takes place on September 28, 2023 from 12 – 2pm. Learn more and register here.

All our 2023 Commitment to Equity Virtual Town Halls take place over Zoom and are free and open to everyone. You can find the full schedule of upcoming events here.

+ Equity Town Hall August 24, 2023 Transcript

Toyin Oladele (she/her): So okay, thank you very much. It’s 12:04 and welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us again. We’ve had more people join us. So really appreciate you.

My name is Tony Oladele, and I am going to be with you this afternoon hosting this amazing session with two amazing arts, managers and art professionals in Calgary.

Before we start, just a couple of information that I would like to let you know that by joining us this afternoon, and by being here you are agreeing to abide by our group agreements which set a commitment to safety and bravery in the spaces we occupy together. The full group agreements are listed, are, will be listed in the chat if you, if you’ve not seen them, and then we will hold ourselves and each other accountable to those group agreements. We would ask that all of you should please not use harmful or disrespectful language, or anyone who actively disregards the group agreement will be asked to leave the town hall.

Please privately chat with Sayo — Sayo, do you want to say hi? She is an active bystander, and she works with Calgary Arts Development. So, if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, or you see that a participant is using harmful or offensive language, please wave so that we can, or let us know or send a private message to Sayo, so that we can see them.

And we have two interpreters with us today, thank you Deb and Brenda. In order to ensure that both interpreters and our speaker are actively visible throughout the event, if you are not speaking, please turn off your cameras so that we can see the people that are speaking at the moment.

And then Angèle, I hope I got that correctly is providing tech support for us. So, if you are having technical difficulties, please send a message directly to them, and they’ll be able to help.

If you have questions during the presentation, or when we’re having conversations today, please feel free to put them in the chat, Sayo will be monitoring the chat for questions, and we’ll do our best to get to the questions at the end when our guests are done with their conversation. Also, if you feel you want to just raise your hand when we’re done at some point, if that’s what you prefer, that would also be great.

I will be sharing my screen at some point right now and then and I’ll take it off when I’m done when we’re going to be using a ppt throughout this session, it’s just going to be for a while.

So welcome to the Calgary Arts Development Commitment to Equity Virtual Town Hall series about racial equity in the workplace. This is a three-part session, series, and we already had one, this is the second one, the third one you’re going to see the date for the third one at the end of the slide.

Well, my name is Toyin Oladele, and I’m hosting today. I have two panelists with me, Dan Cardinal and Sue-Shane. I will be telling you more about all of us in a while. Before I start, and before I continue, I would like to acknowledge that I am very, very aware and conscious of the work, life, people, and culture that existed on this land that we call Calgary today, before, long before it was called Calgary. I have been a partaker of the blessings, and I daily make a full commitment as a newcomer, immigrant to contribute my knowledge, talent, and skills to the peace and tranquility on this land. I would like to acknowledge that today this session is taking place on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot and the people of the Treaty 7 region which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kanai, the Tsuut’ina, and the Stoney Nakoda First Nations. The City of Calgary, as we know, is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta Region 3. And again, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be doing this today.

Who am I? In case, I know that for some people that I’ve seen here you probably know me, and I know some of you, but for those who we’ve never come across each other before, my name is Toyin Oladele. It’s my full name, but you can just call me Toyin. I have been living in Calgary since I arrived in Canada since 2017. I am the founder of the Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation, a non-profit organization that supports newcomers and immigrants who are art professionals helping them, get resources information, opportunities and more. I’m an artist, I’m an arts manager, I’m a culture strategist, a project manager and EDIA advocate with a huge passion for equity in the creative economy.

Well, a little bit more about me outside the arts. I love to see newcomer professionals grow and reach their full potentials as they arrive in Canada especially if they are art professionals and they’re trying to find their foot in Canada. Of course, I volunteer on the board of Calgary Young People’s Theatre, Contemporary Calgary, Chromatic Theatre, and CARFAC Alberta. I also volunteer for organizations like Business for the Arts, Calgary Catholic Immigrant Society, where I literally, Centre for Newcomers, where I mentor and support newcomers and immigrants. Still about me, I am a member of Calgary Arts Development Community Working group on EDIA and this Equity Town Hall session that you’re a part of right now that you’re attending right now is a part of the initiatives and programs emanating from this group.

This group was set up a couple of years ago, about two, two, three years ago to work on a lot of things that concerns EDIA in the arts in our community, and this session was very passionate, I was very passionate about this, it took, because of what I do, and because of how I thrive, or how I strive to kind of help people who are people of colour to get gain access, gain knowledge and have, be compensated for their knowledge as it’s supposed to be.

Before we start the session today, like I did in the last session, I am going to quickly read some key findings to you that I really want to put at the back of your mind even as we go today, so that there would be context to our conversation. Some key findings by Calgary Arts Development research departments, thank you for doing the work, and, Helen, thank you for helping me pull this together.

Well, the arts sector continues to be significantly less racially diverse than the population of Calgary. While 41% of Calgarians identify as visible minorities, only 21% of those participating in the arts share that identity. Those who identify as a visible minority are more likely to hold entry level positions and are less likely to earn over $59,000 per year than those who are white. While women make up the majority of the sector, according to gender, 59%., those who identify as male are still more likely to hold leadership positions either as board members or senior management. Those who identify as male are also more likely to earn over $50,000 per year. Now, those who identify as non-binary gender, those who identify as no binary gender identities are more likely to have artistic and entry level roles.

Indigenous representation in the sector is nearly identical to representation in the general population when compared to census data, and while this development is positive, participation numbers are not equal within the organizations, right, so Indigenous individuals are far more likely to hold roles in organizations at the entry or individual contributor level rather than at the senior or mid-level management on mid-level management levels.

While the Federal census does not capture 2SLGBTTIQ+ data at the local level, those, okay, sorry, data at the local level, those identifying as 2SLGBTTIQ+ are well represented in the arts sector, though they are less likely to earn over $50,000 per year than heterosexual respondents. Income for those working in the arts lags to those working in other industries. Only 32% of those working for art organizations excluding volunteers, though, make over $50,000 per year as well as earning a low wage in the sector. It is difficult to find full time work of those working for arts organizations. Only 44% earn the majority of their income in the arts.

That’s a lot of information, but I’ll just say, let’s take a moment to let that sink in so that we understand what it means. I’m not going to be reading this in detail, but I’ll leave it on the screen for a minute or two, so that we can take a look and read it ourselves and see what it says regarding race.

And like I said, this session is focused on racial equity in the workplace. Of course, in the arts community, in the creative economy. Before we go past the slide, I’d just like to summarize it with the first paragraph. The results when looking at racial diversity in the arts are clear. Significantly fewer individuals who identify as visible minority are participating in the arts either as volunteers or as employees compared to Calgary’s general population. While 41% of Calgarians identify as visible minorities only 21% of those participating in the arts share that identity. And as Canada’s third most diverse city, much work still needs to be done to better represent this diversity within the arts sector. And that is a call to action for all of us today.

This is just for you to see a graphical representation of some of the data that I just shared with you. And in summary before we start talking to my guests today, when looking at racial identity within the types of engagements in the sector, the greatest diversity that comes closest to matching Calgary’s demographics exist only in entry-level positions and artist positions. Even in those positions the art sector remains nearly 10% whiter than the general population. The least diverse roles in the sector are senior and mid-level management positions.

Why do I have these guests today? I’m going to be introducing Dan and Sue-Shane, but I want to give you a background to why they are here. Looking at their title you would see that both of them are in leadership position in the in their individual organization. One of the reasons why they are here today is because we want to pick from their journey what their story is like what they did. What did him do to get the kind of opportunities that they have, the changes they have affected in their individual organizations. and how they believe that the arts community can further support this journey, can further support making the arts community more diverse. Intentionally.

I’ll start from Sue-Shane, and I’ll read a bio for us. As a freelance writer and executive director of Mountain Standard Time, a dynamic performance arts organization in Calgary, Sue-Shane is dedicated to promoting experimentation and innovation in the arts. Fueled by the power of words, Sue-Shane is a force to be reckoned with in the literary arts scene. In 2019, Sue-Shane created a groundbreaking literary arts platform, Sue’s Stokvel, specifically designed to showcase the incredible work of BIPOC writers. Their contributions to the literary arts have been celebrated in Avenue Magazine and the Calgary Journal, shining a spotlight on their ability to captivate audiences through the written word. With a BA in International Relations, Sue-Shane is now applying her knowledge of institutions and governance to transform the field of arts administration. Welcome, Sue-Shane, thank you so much for joining us today. And if you cannot see her yet, because I’m sharing my screen, don’t worry, you’re going to see her very soon.

I’m going to introduce my second guest, Dan, a very good, amazing colleague that I’ve had the opportunity to work with many times. Dan Cardinal McCartney is an interdisciplinary artist and emerging curator who holds a degree from AUArts in drawing. Most importantly, they are a full-time caregiver for their sister Karri. Dan is of Athabasca, Chipewyan, Chipewyan, apologies if I can’t pronounce that properly, First Nations with family ties of Mikisew Cree, Métis and mixed settler lines from Treaty 8 territory, specifically Fort Chipewyan. He is a foster care survivor raised in the northern boreal region of Fort McMurray.

As a two-spirit transgender artist, Dan sifts through patterns of intergenerational trauma and troubles the colonial narrative of hyper individuality. He relates his personal ongoing reconnection with his family to his yearning for gender euphoria through storytelling. Dan focuses on mixed media collage, painting, moving images and performance. Currently they are the assistant director at Stride Gallery in so-called Calgary, Alberta. Welcome, Dan, thank you very much for joining us today.

And before we go into the questions, I quickly want to let you know that the next Equity Town Hall session is on September 28, and we’re going to be having brand new panelists to also give us their two cents on what equity in the workplace looks like for a person of colour.

I’m going to stop sharing my screen because we are going to launch into a conversation with the panelists today.

Dan, is it okay if I start with you? Well, I’d like you to tell us a little bit about yourself. Your career in the arts, how the journey has been, and how you started working with your current organization. As discussed, we just want to get to know you more and how you got into this leadership position that you are in now. I’m also aware that you won an award for being an emerging art administrator not quite long ago. So, I’m very curious to learn about your journey as a person of colour, and how you got to this leadership position. Thank you.

Dan Cardinal McCartney (he/they): Thank you, Toyin. You’re so nice to me all the time, and apologies if my cat is screaming at me right now for food, he’s been fun. So, he’s screaming cat screams, he’s okay. Yeah. My name is Dan Cardinal McCartney and I did graduate from AUArts back in 2016 and just emerging from art school I didn’t feel like there was a lot of opportunities for work. I worked in a warehouse for 6 years, and I feel like as a trans person like you have to maintain a level of safety and as a First Nations person you have to maintain a level of safety, but I was really fortunate to have a lot of art opportunities, and having the privilege of going to post-secondary education, especially bursaries for foster care children who grew up to go to university. But I’d say it was really difficult breaking into any type of arts manager experience. I never intentionally sought out to work at a gallery which kind of sounds strange, I wanted that dream of being a full-time artist, which is incredibly difficult for anyone, but I’d say my path in life is always trying to find a sense of stability. And for sure I will definitely slow down, because I’m very, I’m very quick talker from where I from we talk very quickly. So, I’m sorry about that.

I feel that trying to find that sense of stability as who I am, but also in the arts led me to applying to Stride Gallery. I would say that, starting at Stride, I was invited on as a board member initially after graduation, so volunteer experience before any work experience, but I wasn’t invited on by specifically a white person, which I feel is really important to note. The director at the time, Nicole Kelly Westman, who’s also of Métis descent, she invited me on and I felt very fortunate to meet her and Areum Kim, who’s currently my executive director. I felt that the board at the time was generally very white. I think I am the first First Nations person that’s been on Stride’s board, and also the first First Nations person who has worked at an artist-run center. Nicole is of Métis descent, but having that specific First Nations perspective also working at that gallery.

So, it was through Nicole’s and Areum’s constant mentorship and trying to get me to keep working with them, that consistency I feel a lot of emerging artists needs that badgering a bit. Especially someone who’s a little bit more elusive like I am, and sometimes more shy, believe it or not. So, Sue’s like, yeah, I’m shy, but I think at the time, as a young graduate I really didn’t know what to do, and I needed some aunties, like art aunties looking out for me. So eventually Areum invited me to apply to a Summer Canada Jobs for a curator position, and long story short, there’s been a lot of like issues, I think, with racial equity in the artist-run centres and a lot of scapegoating of Indigenous first nations people even at Stride. So, I was fortunate to eventually come on as the assistant director at the time.

So it was with not just Nicole, but Areum who’s not here today, she’s working on many other things, that it was really her looking out for me, and really making sure I had employment. She’s very shy and very polite, but she is so brave, so brave to take me on, to mentor me, to keep me around, to make sure that someone like me has employment, so it really could only take one person to change your life, and she feels like a big, a big sister to me, even after all of these years. She’s a really great employer. And we’ve made some really hard, I feel like brave decisions to have an all BIPOC board and staff, and now the wonderful Eva Birhanu is my co-artistic director, who’s been here at Stride for three years, so I just feel that it takes it takes a lot of bravery. So, my story is very intertwined with really brave woman and femme who have looked out for me, so I’ll leave it there. But it’s really the bravery of women who’ve really helped a two-spirit masculine person like me, for sure.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): That is so good to hear. Thank you so much. And Toyin speaking now, just to one of the things that stood out to me in what you said is the power of mentorship from one BIPOC person to another that is profound. I am big on mentorship, I believe that’s like one of the fastest and easiest ways to engage emerging, you know, professionals in the creative sector, in the art community. So absolutely. Thank you so much, Dan, we’re going to get to your board and how you go, how you all worked to get the board to be like 100% BIPOC. I’ve been hearing of that for a couple of years now. So, I’m very interested to know more, and for us to share more with our guests today.

Meanwhile we’re going to go to Sue-Shane. Thank you for your patience. Essentially the same question, tell us about yourself, your career in the arts, especially as an arts manager, how the journey has been so far, and how you started working with your current organization. You are in a key position in a major performing arts organization in Calgary. How did that happen? Especially because you’re a BIPOC person, we would like to hear your story?

Sue-Shane (She/Her): Thank you, Toyin. And thank you, Dan, for starting us off, even though you were voluntold. But thank you for being the first one to go.

So, my name is Sue-Shane Tsomondo. I go by Sue or Sue-Shane. I don’t mind either/or. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe, so I moved here at the age of 18 to attend university at the University of Calgary. So, I majored in International Relations, and the way that program is set up you pick a regional cluster and a thematic cluster. So, my regional cluster was sub-Saharan Africa, and my thematic cluster was institutions and governance. And then, two years into my degree I decided that I wanted to minor in English and so I added that on which was I guess I would say that would probably be the beginning, the beginning of my journey into, professionally into the arts. I’ve always written poetry, but once I started studying English at the University of Calgary I realized that there were so many courses on Shakespeare and there weren’t enough courses on any, on writers who are who are not white and European and so there were a lot of clashes in, you know the classroom, and a lot of difficulty and understanding some of the context in which that you know work is written, that you’re being introduced to, a lot, a lot of grace is extended to people who don’t grow up in that immersed in that Western culture. And the only course that I took that had BIPOC writers was a global literature class, and so it was everything else everything else, from everywhere else in just one class. And so, you can imagine that you don’t get to pay attention to, pay attention to that work and go into it in detail, because you’re really picking from a lot of different places because they’re just trying to cover their bases in some way.

And so, after that after I graduated, I worked at the University of Calgary for a little bit and then when my contract ended, I was looking for employment, and so I decided to start a book club because I wanted to, it was sort of the revenge of whatever had happened in university. I wanted to get more people to read BIPOC writers, and so I started a book club called Sue Stokvel, so a stokvel is an informal credit system, that is, while the name specifically comes from a South African an informal credit union and so my grandmother is a part of that in Zimbabwe, in her own community. So essentially, because Black women, particularly, we’re not allowed to engage in the economy in the traditional economy during apartheid and also culturally, there’s also cultural element to that they decided to start their own credit union, which is, you pay a subscription to this group, and then if, for example, there is a funeral, they already have, you know you can, they’ve bought a number of plates, and you know, cutlery to share with people who are in that group whenever there’s a funeral.

So that’s sort of the credit, this informal credit union. And so, when I was thinking about sharing knowledge, II thought it would be people exchanging knowledge in that way that we are all contributing something, but also taking something from this group. And so, I started Sue Stokvel. And so, after a while, book clubs are really complicated to run, so I ended up moving towards just creating a literary arts platform where I was reviewing and recommending BIPOC writers. And Shelf Life Books, which is a local and independent bookstore here in Calgary, were able to stock a lot of those books in their store so that people could go and get them and so that sort of gained traction. And it so happened that the year after, I mean a couple of months after, really, in 2020, which I think everyone remembers, it was, it was a time of great like, you know, political upheaval with the murder of George Floyd, and so there was a lot of desire from people to read more BIPOC writers. And so, I got there was a bit of traction. There’s a lot of traction in that, and so that’s how I end up being featured in Avenue magazine and the Calgary Journal. And so, I was still working freelance at the time, and so when I saw the job call for a co-director for M:ST, I applied and yeah, I got the job. And I had not been involved with M:ST prior to that, and well, how did I… well, I’m sure it feels a little bit traditional, I did just get interviewed and then I got the job, and I started working at M:ST, and it has been it has been challenging. I’ve definitely, in thinking about mentorship, and how valuable that is in in the arts sector, I actually I think, persevered and pushed through the difficulties of being an arts administrator because I had brought in someone through the IBPOC Residency Grant and I felt a commitment to that person to follow through and also create a space where they’re able to see a future for themselves within that organization. So essentially, that was a big motivation for me to push through some of those challenges. We are also now a minority-led majority. I think fully our board is also fully BIPOC as well. So that’s great.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): Whoa! That’s an interesting journey, way more interesting than I thought. I got a lot from there, and again, thank you for touching on mentorship, and how it changes the dynamics of how quickly people can grow in organizations, and how they can see themselves in the future of an organization. So, thank you for sharing that. Dan, if it’s okay, I’m coming back to you and this time around. I want you to quickly touch base on what attracted you to Stride Gallery. I know that you mentioned that you didn’t plan on, you know working at an artist-run centre, but what attracted you, and what is what has it been? What has the experience made internally, especially if there are things that the organization has done to support a leader like you. You already mentioned how Areum has been your cheerleader, so I guess some specific things, specific things in terms of administration, in terms of policy, in terms of structure, how things have been governed, I don’t know. But what are the things that are in there, what attracted you, and what are the things that are in there right now that are really making life easy for you, and making you enjoy what you do. Over to you. Thank you.

Dan Cardinal McCartney (he/they): Yeah, I would say, beyond the people who were running the gallery before I came on, I think what fueled me to apply, but also to keep going was maybe a direct sense of anger I feel as an Indigenous person in Canada and the lack of representation or leadership I’ve seen, and all throughout my career, or life, really, I just felt that it’s kind of that sense of well, who’s doing it? I guess I’ll do it. I guess I’ll also join in this fight, and seeing the efforts of Areum as a board member before coming on as staff and just seeing the support that was needed, seeing the gaps that needed to be filled, I think was also really important to me, and just the sense of obligation, I always feel a sense of obligation to, not to be pan-Indigenous, but an obligation to other Indigenous people who come after me, to the queer people who come after me, to the racialized people that come after me. So, I felt the need again to have stable employment as I was going to be taking care of my sister, who lives with a disability, right after my first year of taking the position. So, I needed, I needed stability. And I think the great thing about Stride is that we’re really flexible. I think that comes with the leadership, I feel that we want to be an artist-run centre that can let you be an artist, that we don’t have very, at this time right now, very firm strict policies, and if you have an exhibition or a residency, you can take that time to do that, because I think it’s a gift that artists are here, and I think that for me, I really wanted to see more artists running artists-run centres, specifically, the galleries as well, like, practicing artists, so I think that’s fantastic that Eva is also a very prolific practicing artist. I could sing her praises all day, right? So, I think that’s just having that sense of flexibility of like, what are we doing this for? To give up our lives for artists? I think, to have a healthy relationship with artists, to yourself, to the organization is that you can have that time and that flexibility and nurture others, but also nurture yourself. It’s a hard balance. I sometimes don’t know how we all do it, but I think that’s kind of what we’re we are striving for. So, I think that is all of the question. But please let me know if I if I missed anything.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): No, that was great. Thank you. Thank you so much, and thanks for touching base on having the space to nurture. It’s super important, especially for those who are artists, and at the same time art managers, art administrators. A lot of times I’ve heard people talk about how they are unable to practice, because, you know, they have to be at work 9 to 5 and it’s really tough. So, Stride providing that space and that flexibility is one thing that I super admire and appreciate, and what’s truly inspiring. So, thank you for sharing that with us.

Before I go to Sue-Shane, I just want to say that for everyone that is here today we are asking these specific questions with the hope that you can pick one or two things that you can take away into your own practice or your own organization to better make your space more equitable for people of colour. So we’re very specific about this, and we might not, you know, like, call out anyone or mention some names, but I mean Dan, and you’ve done a good job in in talking about Areum and how she mentored you, it is just so that in case anyone here has any specifics, maybe you have questions to ask Dan, or to ask anyone, you would also feel free to reach out and ask, you know, for any form of support I’m taking the liberty to just put that out there. If it is something that they have the capacity to help with or to give one or two tips, or to share some resources that can help, I would be asking that question at the end of today’s session. But I just wanted to put that out there.

And Sue-Shane we are coming to you. It’s the same thing, I just want to know, because you mentioned the fact that you just finished school, you saw this post and you applied. What attracted you to the organization M:ST? Why are you currently working for them? How does the role fit into your overall dream and vision? What specific things, if there are maybe policies or anything like I mentioned, has the organization done to have people like you in the space, and to do some of the work that you’ve done? I would just really like to know that. Thank you.

Sue-Shane (She/Her): Thank you. Toyin. So yeah, I just saw the I saw the job call and I applied, and I just knew a little bit about the organization because, they had been involved with the redistribution of the Calgary Black Empowerment Funds, and so that’s how I knew of them. I think what initially drew me to apply for the job was really the language. I am a word person, and so you can really, you know, you can bait me with some with some wording, and so it was, it was really the language. And this idea of looking at art as something that is both local, like within local and global contexts, which I think as an immigrant is something that I’m really interested in. I can’t think of, what is local to me is also what I bring to Calgary that is also local to me in some ways. And so, the idea of local just being something that is well, I don’t know. But you know, I think local is something that is politically loaded as well, and people get to define what local means, and I felt that the way that local was defined in the city was exclusionary. Even though there are a lot of people who are bringing their cultures and practices to this place and so that should also be integrated into what we are starting to understand, and you know, consume as local, and so that, paying attention to those global and local contexts was something that really appealed to me, and so I applied. And the interview process was also something that also made me want the job even more, and so it was a two-part process, but we were paid for our time to prepare for the interview. And it was, we had the questions given to us beforehand, and so even just that the absence of that sort of pressure to have to perform in a certain kind of way in order to be, to get a job wasn’t, you know, we didn’t have that pressure. Because, you know, you go into that setting, and you want to be personable and personable is really coded for a very specific type of conversation. And so, I’m worried because I don’t know about any hiking trails in Calgary, and so I can’t come up with conversations around that, because I’m, you know, I’m not local to this place and so I might not be a cultural fit. And so, I think that worry around being a cultural fit was something that I didn’t have going into the interview process. I was comfortable being myself.

I also think that it was a matter of timing, because M:ST has never had a BIPOC person in any of the management level positions, and in its entire existence has had two white co-directors and the organization was founded in 2003, and so the organization itself was shifting, was trying to see how they could become more welcoming to applicants you know, from diverse backgrounds. And so, I think there was in in some ways there was this sort of undertone of wanting to change the makeup of the organization really.

And so, I was excited because it felt like I had the opportunity to really bring in a lot of changes because there was already, so there were all these conversations that were happening before I joined that were, you know, we want to shift into this space. And so, feeling like I was at the right place at the right time to be able to do those things, it felt really hopeful. And I think part of the reason why I stayed is very similar to, I think, why Dan got involved is the rage and the anger, is because I think once I got into the organization I realized that there were no systems or, the preparation in order for this change, the change itself was the only preparation for this change, if that makes sense. And so, me joining the organization was the change, but there was no, I think, change preparation for me to join the organization. And so once I got in and I’ve said this before, and, as most people know, I just say what I think, most times I felt bamboozled, hoodwinked, and led astray because I felt that the language had been something completely different to what I was now experiencing, that there was a gap between what the organization wanted to be and what it was, and that in order to get to what we want to be, we would have to have a reckoning with what the organization is in the moment, and I think there was a lot of conflict around that acknowledgement and realization that the organization that what we want to be is not who we are.

And so, I stayed mostly because I wanted to, I really wanted to make that shift that we can, we can have aspirations on who we want to be but that doesn’t mean that we, it’s counter-intuitive to ignore who we are, even if it feels shameful and humiliating, but that we can’t make progress without having that reckoning. And so, I think part of that is inherited. My dad fought in the liberation wars of Zimbabwe, so sometimes I just think I have a hard time taking things lying down. So, you know, I just was like, I’m going to stay, and I’m going to speak to it that there is a reckoning and a real reflection of these ideas that are on paper into what is happening in the organization.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): This is super inspiring. I feel, like, you know, giving you a round of applause. Thank you so much for sharing that deep, deep, deep experience that you had. I understand that, especially with the pandemic and with a lot of things that happened a lot of organizations were really really determined, I don’t want to use the word desperate, but determined to make their spaces more equitable, and have, you know, be intentional about making spaces for, or creating spaces, I would call it that. But what we also saw, and what I have personally seen, especially for people who want to, like, engage with newcomers and immigrants who can reach out to us for collaborations or things like that is that they don’t have the internal structure. It’s like the skeleton is not there, and they’re just super concerned about the flesh and what it looks like on the outside. And that makes it, it brings a lot of conflict. It puts me as a person in a situation where I have to over-explain myself like, explain now and then explain again in the next meeting, and then explain again, and then explain again, because that understanding is not thorough.

So, I totally understand what you’re saying, and a lot of us have experienced it. And like I said, for those of you joining us this afternoon, this is one of the reasons why we’re sharing these stories, so that you can take all this together and think about it and reflect and see where your organization is at. Thank you.

Before we go to the next question, I want to chip in one question here. Both of you have talked about how your board is currently 100%. BIPOC. I want to know briefly the story to that journey. How did you get there? I don’t know if it happened before you, before you joined the organization or while you were there. But whatever you know about it, we would like to know. And can we start from Sue-Shane this time? Is that okay? And then go to Dan. Thank you.

Sue-Shane (She/Her): Yeah, so we were, I think, the organization was 50% when I joined. It was 50% BIPOC, and then my first sort of, I think it’s 6 months into my, into joining the organization, we had our AGM and then things sort of shifted towards having a fully BIPOC board. And I think a critical part of that was the presence of Marina Crane, who is a Tsuut’ina Elder and also a practicing artist, having her on the board. I think she is extremely brave. And I think it also comes with just old age. She does not, you know, she no longer has that I think fear of what may happen in her career if she stands her ground that a lot of us have as young IBIPOC arts administrators, you know you’re afraid to, you know, burn bridges because you still need to work for the next, you know, couple of decades. And so, I think Marina’s bravery in intervening was critical to bringing in more BIPOC board members. I really think so. I had a health crisis while in my first year, working at, in my first couple of months working at M:ST, caused due to burnout and I remember Marina taking a very strong stance on how a board should run and our commitment to the staff who work in our organization. And I think that really opened up space for people to come in and join the leadership. And also, Marina really did network with people. I think with a sense of honesty about where the organization was at and what we wanted to do. And so, people who were, who felt that they were in a place where they could offer support to make that shift happen also joined. So I think it was really the honesty that you know, reaching out to people and saying this is where we’re at, this is what the organization is now, there are no, we’re not going to sugarcoat what the organization is in order to attract people, but we’re going to tell you honestly where the organization is, and we feel that you would be able to help us to get to where we want to go. And so, I think that really appealed to a lot of the people who have joined us since then.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): Wow! A lot of work. Thank you so much for sharing that.

We asked a question earlier about internal support systems, leadership processes and style, policies that supported you into coming into the role that you are. Now, so I wasn’t that specific the first time, but I’d like to be more specific. So, you’ve talked about mentorship, you’ve talked about someone being there to hold your hand. In practical, what are the specific kinds of supports that you needed? Were they more around the role itself? Were they more around just being in a space where you see someone who is like you sitting in a position that can inspire you to get there also? Or was it more about the technical things of the of the role itself? Was it a combination of the three? I’d just like to know more about that. Final thoughts. Thank you.

Sue-Shane (She/Her): So, I think it was a combination of all three just off the bat in thinking about that question. And so thinking about something really practical that was that was also there in those first couple of months when I joined M:ST was that there was an HR liaison that was assigned to me from the board, and my HR liaison is an amazing artist, Malidi Mercedes Webb, and so I think that she also understood my, the complications of being in this position, and so was able to advocate for me, especially when there is as I think, I was coming in as a co-director, and so my other co-director is someone who had been in the senior level management of this organization for a couple of years at this point, and so we were not coming in on equal footing. And so, of course, when you’re having conversations, someone’s words will carry more weight because they’ve been there for longer. There were conversations, there were meetings that I had with people, my co-director was white, and there were conversations I would have with people where it was in my area of, you know, expertise, or it’s my project, and people would not make eye contact with me at all while talking about this project. They would just look at this person the entire time and engage with them alone. Or I would bring up an issue and one of the most I think, vivid or most memorable examples of this was, I was in a meeting, and someone had mentioned something about how they have the Blackest friend ever. I remember my face, I was so visibly shocked that someone would say that, and so I think I didn’t even know if they meant it, culturally or complexion-wise, and I but, either or I was, I didn’t understand why they felt that they were in a position to be able to make such a comment. And so, I remember saying, ‘That is just so inappropriate to say,’ and their initial reaction was to ask to speak to my white co-director privately in response to my comment about how inappropriate that was, and continued to have to communicate with that director, co-director, and never included me in the conversation. And so there were things like that where it was there was obviously the way people were treating us is quite different and having an HR liaison like Malidi who was on our board really helped having someone to just vent to and say, these are the things that are happening, and also has I think really supported me in in conveying and expressing how I was feeling, and how these things should be remedied.

And so, I think that was really important, having an HR liaison on the on the board. So especially when you have someone new coming in where there is obviously going to be a power dynamic and you know, this power dynamic, this unequal power dynamic that exists, you want to have someone there who can speak on behalf of this new person and say this person is uncomfortable telling you this, but the way you responded to that situation did not feel supportive to them, and you know, and really have your back and so that you feel you feel encouraged to speak the truth when things happen that are uncomfortable.

The second thing was, I definitely needed more technical support because it was, I think the position itself was very much about ideas. Again, in thinking about transforming an organization, our ideas rather than what the practical steps should be, and also, yeah, there was just at the onboarding process, because nonprofits, artist-run centres are quite small, and you know if people are working on a contract basis, and so usually, there’s only one or two staff members who’ve been there who are there full time to be able to give you that kind of support, and I saw that with my co-director they didn’t have a lot of time in between actually doing the majority of the work as the only full time staff, and also training me and onboarding me. And so, there was almost an ease to them, just like doing everything themselves. Number one. Number two, a lot of information and knowledge is them stored in, you know, one person’s mind, which means that knowledge isn’t distributed equally, and that’s something that we’re trying to address now, in the organization through just actually record keeping, very good record keeping so that someone else, so that the organization doesn’t rest entirely on one person that someone else can look through my notes. I try and record a lot of things, and I say, you know, when this happens, just actually writing down notes about how I do things. When you want to change, update the signatory for the bank, here’s what you do, here’s the form, and here’s where it is. And so also just working with the idea that I’m not going to be in this position forever, and I think leaders need to work with that, with that in mind that they are passing it on to someone. And also, they’re able to separate themselves from, you know, the organization, like provide, have some distance, and that distance also allows for other people to come into the organization and take ownership of it. And so, I think, like, really not meshing yourself with the organization is extremely important.

So, I think, in what I needed as well, was just that knowledge just that, you know I think the one on one, someone just telling you that don’t get too enmeshed with the organization. You know you are still your own person, and create space between you and the organization, so that other people can come into that position, that you also do not feel possessive over it if there are changes that need to be made, because I think that’s also an issue, that if people are too enmeshed with an organization. When people come with solutions to issues. We’re sensitive to that because we’re like, you know, I do all the work at this organization. I’m synonymous with this organization. I don’t have a life and personality and identity outside of this organization. And so, everything that happens in this organization or any comments that is made towards my organization are taken very personally rather than you know, this is something, I am my own person, and I can welcome you and different ideas, and that doesn’t necessarily challenge who I am as a person, you know.

I don’t know if I’ve even answered the question. I’ve gone on a different, completely different road. But I think this is I’m also talking about what I needed, and perhaps not what I received, but what I realize now that is important to have in in those structures.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): That is amazing. I feel like screaming. Thank you so so much, and you would see when I was reading some of the key findings, you would see where one of the things we had there was how a lot of people, a lot of BIPOC people are occupying a certain level in most of the organizations. Guess what? Despite that there is also a lot going on for them, like you just mentioned a lot is in the mind of if a lot of people, a lot of information, and I know that art organizations are doing their best to, you know, do proper documentation and things like that, but that was an outstanding key point for me. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Yeah, Dan. I’m going to go through the question again just to give us, remind you, so I’ve heard about what’s Stride has done. I’ve heard from different corners, and it’s been great. I just want to know, and we touched on it again, I just wanted to get if there are specifics, right? So, there are policies, internal support systems, leadership processes that supported you coming into the role as the BIPOC arts leader – what were the things you needed? What were the things you were given? Technical-wise? In terms of support? What did that look like onboarding? What did that process look like for you? Thank you. Final thoughts.

Dan Cardinal McCartney (he/they): Yeah. I feel like I can listen to you talk all day, Sue-Shane. I’m just like man, such great, I just love listening. I think, I think for me is honouring capacity and thinking of like, how much can we actually do? And sometimes that takes other folks telling us at Stride, like, you guys are taking on too much, like you need to change. And so I think a big part of my specific role and something that a role I’ve taken on as being raised to be the oldest girl in foster care, my foster home, taking care of children since I was four, really, is saying no, and putting up those like time limits and boundaries, and I can’t speak for Eve, but I think that’s a really big, strong asset for her as well like coming in and being like realistically, what can we actually do? Being really honest with ourselves? And I think Areum carries that honesty with herself, too.

And I think, outsourcing some parts of your training, I feel that has been really beneficial for me, like taking RAFT with the Rozsa Foundation and then taking the RAMP program with the Rozsa Foundation and just trying to find that mentorship, so I’m not just completely leaning on Areum, like leaning on that one person as she onboarded, Eva and I at the same time, but also thinking that, like Areum is the executive director but I feel that as a three person team, honouring that three person team is actually really important, because I don’t think two people running a gallery like the size of ours, even though it’s relatively small, there has always been high ambitions for Stride. I think realistically, it does take three people, and sometimes it takes three people if someone like me is hired who is First Nations and has strong obligations to family, and who is a caregiver who needs time off at a moment’s notice, because my family, we’ve been disenfranchised so much, and I have obligations to family first. So, I think it relates back to what Sue-Shane said, like, really, yeah, being really honest with your capacity and yeah, I think just putting in those internal support systems is really, really important. Yeah, I think I think I’ll leave it there. But yeah.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): I hear you. And what I hear is the most is about the support the flexibility. I think putting in this in our mind as a mindset is very important in in this sector, because if we desire to have in the next couple of years a more diverse art sector, it’s important to have that flexibility buried in our structure, so those who want to keep working with the colonial structure there’s no problem with that. But we want to adapt to some things as we go, because we know Rome was not built in a day so, I know this is a journey for a lot of organizations, just transforming themselves gradually.

There is something that I would recommend that should be number one on our mind is that flexibility built in into the structure of how things work in the organizations, that way you would be able to, the space would let in, like Dan said, people with very unique, you know, situations from the BIPOC community, from the newcomer community, and people who, you know, are barely trying to find their feet, but they will, they can do the job, they can deliver. We just need to create that space for them. So, I just wanted to echo that.

Thank you very much, Dan, for sharing.

One of the last questions we have here is if you have resources. So, for both of you, Dan, you mentioned RAFT. I’m very, very proud of RAFT, I facilitate RAFT now, and teach arts management with the Rozsa Foundation, but if there are resources, things that helped you for yourself? So, we’ve talked about what organizations did, but for you yourself, outside what Areum provided, outside what M:ST provided for you, what are the things that you sought yourself, because I know there are folks here who are aspiring to be art leaders and they’re BIPOC, right? What are the things that you did for yourself to prepare yourself for the organization? What are the if you want to share some of the times, you have to put your foot down on some things. What are the, what are those moments, if it is seeking, like you said, outside education, outside mentorship, that’s okay, feel free to share. If it’s like just watching YouTube videos, whatever it is that you did we’d like to know, before we start taking the questions in the chat. So thank you very much. Who wants to go this time? I don’t want to volunchoose.

Sue-Shane (She/Her): Okay, are we going to, are we going to rock paper scissors? Okay? Fine. So, what I did for myself, I was just writing notes here as you were asking the question. So, in terms of resources, I really connected and maintained relationships with other IBIPOC arts leaders from different organizations. Dan and I know each other because we’ve also had so many conversations around things that are happening in artist-run centres, Stride Gallery, I think just their entire, their entire team, Dan and Eva have been such a strong support system, because I, you know, sometimes I just walk into the gallery, you know, and I am just, I have questions. I just have questions. And you know, when I needed help in terms of figuring out how to report on these really big grants, you know, I set up some time to meet with Areum and Areum was really helpful. I have gone for multiple coffees with Eva just to talk about things that are happening. How do I, how do I approach this situation? And so, I think they’ve really, you know, I owe a lot to Stride for really supporting me in in pushing through all these things because they’ve, they’re like, we know what it’s like. They really, as an organization, provided it was almost like an organizational like a team mentorship. And so, I’m really grateful for that. So, I think it’s important to connect with other people that you meet at events. Go to these, go to openings, meet with people and if you see that you connect with people on some level, you know, nurture those connections, and they’ll be able to give you advice. You can also confide in them, because I think, especially in senior level positions I think there’s also the burden of confidentiality, and you know, professionalism. And so, I think, also engaging with people who understand some of these responsibilities. When you’re seeking advice is really important.

The next thing would be going to therapy. I think that is extremely important. I had a personal reckoning, and still am going through that during this, since starting this position, being a Black woman and being in a leadership position and also wanting people to like me, you know. And even saying no, and how that is perceived. And also, being comfortable with my own decisions, regardless of how other people feel about them. How people feel about my decisions is not necessarily, does not, it does not determine whether or not that is a good decision or a bad decision, so I think there are all these complicated, very layered, that obviously, that you have to consider people. And so, but there’s this very, it’s a balance between considering people and also being able to say I have all this information, and I hear you, but I am still choosing to do this thing because I’m considering this and this and this feels like the right decision, and that people will be upset. And so, I think it’s very challenging, as a Black woman when people are, you know, can interpret your, you carrying out your responsibility as a form of aggression, that things are only fair if you agree with them. I think we’re really, and I’ve spoken to Dan about this at length, about this idea that we have to like someone’s decisions in order for those decisions to be considered as fair.

And so, I think that there is this emotional intellectual empathy that I think is lacking, that we need to really bring into these conversations that I can understand how, with the information that you have, you are deciding to make those choices, even though I would make different choices. And so, I think that is something that is that we really should bring in. And I think having a space to have that validated that I can make decisions, that I’m capable of making decisions that I can take into consideration everyone’s feelings and opinions and ideas, and that all the you know, every decision I make is not going to serve everyone equally and that I can trust myself to follow through with that decision, knowing that I’ve done my due diligence. And so, there was a lot of like personal work that I had to do with the therapist to just say, you know, I don’t feel good when people don’t like the decision that I’ve made, you know. And how do I stick with that? I feel bad if someone says something because I made a different decision or makes conclusions about who I am as a person, because I made a specific decision without all the information, and not caring about those things as much has been really helpful. And so, I hope to continue that journey, of settling more into who I am, and feeling more comfort in that.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): That is super brave! Well done, super brave, amazing story there! Appreciate you. Oof! I feel like I have a lot of work to do myself. Thank you for sharing, and I’ll echo some of the things you said. You don’t want to be called difficult, right? You don’t want to be called; you don’t want to hear things like I’m not sure she understands what we’re talking about. Because, you know, you understand, right? You just want to do things the way that seems right to you. And yeah, sometimes it feels that way and thanks for facing it with a lot of grace and courage. Thank you.

Dan, anything you’d like to add to that, please?

Dan Cardinal McCartney (he/they): I think with the pandemic, and just how I’ve had to take on more responsibility in my life with family, even now things are just changing again, developing every year it seems. I just think that allowing people into my circle like if they I always think like, how would they treat my sister? How would they treat my niece? How would they treat my brother, my Auntie, my Kookum? If they don’t treat them right, they don’t get to stay in my life. And having that really firm boundary, I think, also pertains also bleeds into Stride thinking of like, can we work with this artist, this organization? Are they going to respect everyone on the team? Because, like what you’ve said Sue, like that coworker being asked more questions and that person not looking you in your eyes – are they going to treat Areum like that? They’re going to treat Eva like that, me like that? If they can’t respect three different people from three very distinct backgrounds, especially Eva, maybe we can’t work with them. Maybe we’re not going to work with them. And that goes from like board members, artists, other directors. And I think having that sense of safety, I think for me, is really important, and seeing someone like my Auntie Shirley being that mother bear and that matriarch of our family, and breaking those generational curses, is huge for me. So again, it’s the women, honestly, who lead that forward, and I’d say to like Sue-Shane, I had to get a therapist after my first year in this position. The amount of just violence I saw, you know, in the arts community, specifically towards Black and Indigenous folks was, of course, expected, but it still sinks so deep into your bones. So, thank God, Christina, I love you. My therapist, Indigenous woman, who gave me therapy free for two years, was just so impactful. So, thank you, Christina. So, I just think like that, that again was very healing.

But going back to my traditional homelands, and this was really important for me, specifically, after the forest fire, going home and healing on the land and being around my people, my community, my family and reconnecting is really important to me. So that’s where I go to heal, I go to the forest to go to the bush, I go home. So even as a guest here in Mohkinsstsis, like just going out and going to the river and being spiritual and smudging and praying, like that really gets me through a lot. But I’m not really too open about that spiritual part of myself, because I feel like it’s mine and my family’s but yeah, definitely like, family, therapy, relationships, nature, saying no, saying no to people that you can’t have in your life, and seeing how they react again to some of your decisions really tells people to, says a lot about people, because we made a small gallery, the Prairie Crocus, BIPOC just for one year. Just for one year, just all BIPOC, just one year, one year. People could not handle that. Could not. I’m like, just one year. Just one year. So, I think that kind of set the precedent like we’re just going to do that and see how it goes. So, you know. Too bad.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): Oh, I can’t. Big big shout out to your therapist first of all, that, that’s truly inspiring that these are profound stories. Thank you so much for coming to this space to share. I’m going to go into the chat and pick the question that we have.

The first one is for Sue-Shane. Sue-Shane mentioned that organization, her organization did not have a change preparation to change when she joined the team. I am curious about what a change preparation could look like, how other organizations, how could be better prepared for those changes.

Sue-Shane (She/Her): The first thing that comes to my mind in response to that question is that I think that other people also need to go to therapy because if they’re able to process their own emotions, you know things that are happening in their lives, then, I think work becomes a place where you know, people aren’t necessarily trying to, trying to play out a fantasy to heal themselves within their workplace. So, for example, if someone has felt, you know, really has some trauma prior to working at this place or feels like they are not good enough, for example, and how this plays out in their working relationships. So maybe they are constantly, maybe perceiving other people’s opinions as you know, people think they’re better than me, for example, I think these are things that we have to also work on ourselves to see what cause I think we think about therapy in the sense of, I’m going to work on myself so that I can show up well in personal, intimate relationships. But you have relationships outside of that. And having that critical lens that we have towards our, you know, romantic relationships, our friendships and bringing that into our working relationships and really saying, for example, if someone else comes into the position and you know, is much better at certain things than I am, I want to be able to confront that separately. My work will not be the place where I am playing out my insecurities and causing hurt to other people. I want to take that outside of the workplace and say, you know what go to a therapist and say, I feel really bad that there’s someone in the organization that is doing a much better job than me. And that’s okay that you feel that way. And it makes me feel insecure about my job. And I, you know, I’m starting to be maybe more aggressive or dismissive of this person, because I am feeling that way. And so, I think, really, just go to therapy and talk to someone when you’re feeling insecure, don’t, and it’s okay that it’s about work, you know. Like, let’s have some space for that, for how our insecurities, how our life experiences are informing, how we interact with other people in the workspace, so that we can be, I think, more compassionate with each other. That’s really, I think, would be a responsible thing to do. So, in terms of change preparation when someone else is coming into the organization, how am I going to deal with these, with this person’s observations or opinions of what this organization is like? How do I respond in a way that is supportive, that is empowering, and that is useful? And so, I think these are all very internal, this is like a lot of internal work has to happen in order to welcome someone into that space and be open. So, I think it really is about working on yourself in order to be able to bring someone else into the fold.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): Thank you very much, and I’ll add a little bit to that definitely, therapy, definitely knowing yourself, knowing what power you hold in the space/power dynamics, I always like to say that it’s important right for you to know the power you hold in that space. If you are the executive director of an organization or an owner, a founder, and things like that, and you’re bringing in other people, especially if you’re not a BIPOC person and you’re hiring folks who are, you know, BIPOC, you want to, you want to be conscious of the power dynamics there. I always give this example of myself, I said I have lived in Nigeria throughout my life, right? I came to Canada just about five years ago. All my life through media, through what I see in my community, through things I’ve read and more, I have always believed that I am inferior to a white person, not because anybody told me that, but because it was just all over the place, right, and I find myself one day in a country called Canada, North America, and I am on the board, and I am in an organization or something. The truth is, it’s going to take a long time for me to catch up with the fact that I have the skills that actually got me here. Whenever we’re in meetings, whenever we’re in deliberations, there is that unconscious thing that I’ve grown with for over 30 years that would keep coming back, to say that, okay, maybe you shouldn’t be here. We call it sometimes imposter syndrome, but sometimes it’s also a journey of self-knowledge. So, if leaders that are not necessarily BIPOC, and organizations who want, sincerely want this change, minutes, being conscious of these power dynamics and the kind of the way they occupy the space is very important. It makes this space easily, I mean easier to access for those who are just climbing the rope.

And the second question is for both Dan and Sue-Shane. Dan and Sue-Shane, what recommended steps, how did you, do you have the reckoning journey you and others embarked on within your organization. Hmm, okay, I don’t know if I didn’t read it properly. But I guess the person is right. Say, do you have, this is from Nicole, do you have, like what I, like, what was the reckoning journey you and others embarked on within your organization kind of like, what are the things that you became self-aware of in order to make your space more equitable. I believe that’s what you’re trying to ask, Nicole. If not feel free to let us know if you’re still here and we can, you can ask the question directly. That’s what you’re asking, fantastic. Okay, I’ll leave this to Dan and Sue-Shane. Dan, do you want to go first? Is that okay? Thank you.

Dan Cardinal McCartney (he/they): I think from personal standpoint, but also like an organization, I think, understanding the seriousness like we’re in the arts, but understanding the seriousness of that if you’re running an organization, you’re employing people, like you’re inviting people in, you’re having their arts, their ideas, their lives, stories in your space, you have to understand, like, I think, how serious like, you have that power like it goes back to that power like, and recognizing and kind of going into Sue-Shane’s earlier points I feel like I’m constantly echoing you, Sue-Shane, but you have so many good points, that it’s about like recognizing that it’s not always about you. It’s not always about what you want. It’s not always about your grand idea. And I think that in this colonial society, like that individuality mindset is so prevalent in the arts that it does take a whole group of people, like a whole organization to make changes. So, I think a step I had to take switching from an artist applying individually to things and individually creating art is, okay, there’s two other people here who are also incredible artists, writers, curators, I have to be a part of a team. Like you really have to understand your power dynamics. I have to recognize my proximity to whiteness with my half-German side, my masculinity. So, to me, it’s just really important to understand that that it’s not trivial that some people’s lives are dependent on the art that they make or their career path as an artist. So, treading carefully, treading lightly. I can’t remember how to pronounce the word in Cree, but it’s taking that very seriously. It’s being careful with your steps, and just stepping back when maybe it’s not your voice that should be heard right now. And I think that’s something that’s really important. So yeah, that’s my intention, and that, like, your intention, and your impact can be so different. And if you make a mistake, I think really understanding that you did make mistake, if that makes sense. Account, we all say accountability, but I think like really feeling it, I think, is really important. And hopefully, you have a team that you can feel that and process that. Yeah. And other steps, it takes time like you said Toyin, it takes time, Rome was not built in a day, and I think, having that sense of urgency and wanting to act on it right away, I think, having maybe like making sure you don’t have like a White Saviour mentality, even as, like First Nations person myself like really owning like, how am I coming to this situation? I might have it wrong, and just accepting that sometimes could be really helpful, especially when you’re working with many other people. So yeah.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): Amazing. Thank you. Thanks so much Dan. Sue-Shane?

Sue-Shane (She/Her): I would say the reckoning part of, the reckoning has also been really taking advantage of the position that we’re in, which is that we’re engaging with a lot of artists who are engaging in a lot of conversations through their art. And so not just working in presenting the arts, but also engaging with the arts. You know, because sometimes we are organizing these things for artists. And we’re just like, you know, we’re sort of putting it out there, everyone come and see, but really also taking the time, because we have the opportunity to talk to these artists and say, Why are you creating this work? We really have this, I think, really amazing opportunity to say, You know, why are you creating this art? What is the story behind it? And learn from the artists that we are working with and their ideas.

We also introduce their ideas into the conversations that we have within our organization. And so we’re not just saying we’re giving an artist a platform, we’re also saying the reason why we’ve selected this particular work is because of this and this, and how, how does our, you know, affinity to this particular idea, how is that going to show up in our organization and not just in us displaying that work? And so, I think that’s an important part. The second thing I’d say for me in terms of reckoning, but just for me personally, is that I love to read, and so reading will remain some, I hope that it remains something that I lean on for the rest of my life as a place to get new ideas, gain deeper understanding of how to do things differently. I am constantly reading about new ways to do everything, just anything, really and so I think that there are always new ideas emerging and making connections between different pieces of literature and thinking Okay, someone wrote about, you know, media control or something like that, and starting to think about the difference between art and culture or reading about cultural anthropology. I think there’s just so much work that is out there in the world that we could read, and we can also pick what is useful for us and make, you know, connections between concepts based on what we want to achieve. And so, I really would say that the reckoning should happen with engaging with work and also being able to discern what applies to our specific context, you know. So, I think that’s important, especially being in such close proximity to the US, I think a lot of our ideas around decolonization and a lot of really anything is just so closely, are duplications or attempts at replicating American ways of doing things. And so, I think, reading from different parts of the world, and then picking out what works for you is a really good way of taking part in that reckoning.

And I would say also giving people space to create as someone in a senior level position, sort of supporting people to do their work but allowing them to take ownership of that work in order to bring their ideas to the forefront. So that there is space for that diversity of thought in how we and how we address any issues, and also asking, I think, one thing I try and practice is asking everyone for their opinion, even when it’s something that’s not necessarily within their, you know, purview or like, it’s not part of their responsibility, even if it’s oh, I’m thinking of doing a project on this. It’s not necessarily maybe their decision, anyone else’s decision, but just hearing from other people is part of that reckoning, just having conversation, allowing people into those conversations even in an informal way, is really important.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): Thank you. Thank you so so much. This excellent insight, like Nicole was just saying in the chat. Thank you. That’s spot on. I wonder if we have any questions? These are the questions that we have, and I hope I am very full. I’m going to take a long-time debriefing on everything we’ve said. I quickly want to correct something that I said at the beginning, which is the next Town Hall session, it’s on September 5th, and it’s on gender equity, right? Not September 28th. However, the next Racial Equity in the Workplace Town Hall is on September 28th, so we have two sessions coming up in September and you’re all invited. We’re looking forward to having you all there. That being said, thank you, Maureen, for posting that in the chat that would show you the upcoming town halls, and you can register there. Questions from anyone outside the ones that we’ve already treated. I would like to hear back if there are thoughts before I go back to a panelist to take their final thoughts for today in the last 15 min that we have to share together. Any questions? Okay. Sayo is curious to know about HR liaison, and I am curious about that also because you mentioned Sue-Shane that there was someone on the board, or something that was like a liaison for you. Can you tell us a little bit about that? And then, when you’re done, you can give your final thoughts. And then we go to Dan for its final thoughts, too. Thank you.

Sue-Shane (She/Her): Okay. So, the HR liaison, someone on the board in preparation for someone joining the team, will volunteer, some members of the board will volunteer to be HR liaisons. And so it’s sort of an extension of the board membership and of those people who volunteer, for example, if there’s three people who say they would be interested in being an HR liaison, once this new person is hired, they have until the first board meeting or a few weeks just to you know, attend the board meeting and see if they would be who they would like to have as their HR liaison. Sometimes there are not that many options if only one person volunteers, but if there are options, then the new person will just choose who they would like to be their HR liaison, and then, for the first three months of your contract your meeting once a week with your HR liaison, just a debrief on how the week is going, if you’re having any issues. And so, if there are any conflicts that will be a first point of contact. If you don’t feel like you can approach the person directly, if you don’t feel like you can approach your supervisor directly to say, Well, I have questions about this, or I don’t feel comfortable about how things are going in this way, and then they would mediate. So, I think there are a couple of ways that could happen, but that’s really based on you know, from person to person. If there are certain people who for example, might want the HR liaison in that meeting with the co-worker, or it’s more so that there are two separate conversations that happen, one between the employee and the HR liaison, and one, there’s some sirens in the background, I’m not sure you can hear, but yeah, so it can, it’s pretty, it’s, you co-create it with your HR liaison how that works. And so, there were times when we met once every two weeks after a while we started meeting once every two weeks. And so, it’s really just a place to also just vent just to say, you know, this is really frustrating, or I don’t know how to do this, or where can I get resources to learn more about something? So that’s what the HR liaison position is and then my final thoughts. I will, I need a little bit to think about that, so I’ll pass that on to Dan, and then I will have my final thoughts after, if that’s okay?

Toyin Oladele (she/her): Of course, that’s okay. Thank you, Dan. Do you want to give us your final thoughts? Are you able to?

Dan Cardinal McCartney (he/they): Yeah, I just want to say, thank you for inviting me into this Toyin, you always invite me into such wonderful things. So, it’s really nice. And I think like the idea of bringing people along, like inviting people along with you into good situations goes along way. And I just think, yeah, I just thank you again. And I just hope people can be kind to themselves. And yeah, and just really take care of themselves. Life is tough, and yeah, rely on your relationships if you can, for sure. Yeah. And thank you to you, Sue-Shane. Always love hearing your talk and hear your point of view all the time. So, thank you.

Sue-Shane (She/Her): I will say thank you, Toyin, for inviting me. It was also lovely having this opportunity to work with you, and I hope that there are many other opportunities. And always love to spend time with Dan and hearing your thoughts, you know I’m constantly seeking you out. I will appear at Stride Gallery very soon as a surprise. I just show up at Stride Gallery unannounced, and so I will be showing up for more in-person conversations. And thank you for all your questions today, M:ST is launching an art magazine next week, Thursday I should say, and so we have a few unreserved tickets that are available on Eventbrite and so if you’re available next week, Thursday, at Loophole at 7pm. Please come through you can find the information on our Instagram at performative art. If you want details to attend the magazine launch so that’s just one thing to put out there for now. But yeah, thank you so much for having me here, and it was lovely to see some new and familiar names. Just in the on the grid there. Thank you.

Toyin Oladele (she/her): Absolutely. I appreciate you accepting to join me. I did a lot of research, and of course I know what kind of voice I would like to engage here, and to share, based on what you both stand for and the organizations you work with, and what you’ve been able to achieve. So yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

And everyone we have 10 min that we’re giving back to you. So, enjoy the rest of your afternoon. Thanks for sharing your lunch hour with Calgary Arts Development today. And again, my name is Toyin. Thank you, and have a very, very great day.

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