Our identities shape our beliefs of what is possible.
As a white woman working in systems transformation and intercultural collaboration, naming my social location lets me own my privileges, motivations and vulnerabilities. Naming my gifts supports me to connect with others knowing what really drives me. Embodied consciousness engages who I really am, and what I do, with whom.
Roots and Legacy
I am an orphan of white Slavic working-class immigrant parents who died when I a toddler, and I grew up as a foster child with an aunt and uncle.
I’m cis and queer and single. I’m blessed with amazing chosen family around the world. I’ve had the luxury to be highly educated, travel extensively, and make art. Expanding consciousness and structures for a vibrant, connected, equitable, sustaining and joy-making world is what drives me.
The family I grew up with grappled with mental illness, addiction and violence. I was never more than a foster child there, and my original family’s truth was hidden. At the age of 7, walking home from school, I asked myself,
‘What kind of society treats its people so badly that they act like this, so destructive and angry and violent?” Then, “And these power people are horrific to the original people of this land, who lived here in peace for ever. How do they have any right…?”
Followed by, “What kind of 7 year old asks questions like this?” I knew that the seed came from my original parents. And I knew that that one day I would know who they were.
I was driven for social justice, community development and social innovation, yet always believed that I was never of a place, family, or community. Like many social innovators, I loned it and worked on amazing projects, always on the go, excited by the quest of what could be possible for us to create, as ways of living on this gorgeous planet. My focus as a facilitator and systems innovator became collaborations grounded in systemic community relationships of diversity, creativity, collectivity and real impacts.
Years later, at 40 years old, thinking I was long past the violence, it announced itself again. An ex-boyfriend assaulted me. There were no witnesses, and he was acquitted.
I came to see violence as the root nature of colonizing culture. Co-founding the Restoring Collective with the aim to stop the culture of violence, we found that many leading leadership and wellness models are sourced from Indigenous wisdom traditions: here & now mindfulness in systemic awareness, authentic and powerful self in reciprocity with collective evolution; gift relationships of activation and accountability, and the ever-creating balance dance of self with collective, always emerging.
These are also operational structures that can inform how we build the new way.
I am very aware that my working as an Ally, or ‘collaborating’ as the people I work with call it, is about opening space in the dominant systems and then co-creating a better way.
In the 1980’s years of international protest against South African apartheid, I knew and vowed that helping to end Canada’s apartheid against Indigenous peoples was part of my calling. It is both my deepest nature, and my choice.
What nature, and what choice?
Through a series of right person right place right time encounters in my late 40s, I pieced together that my mysterious original family were deep-in labour and civil rights activists in the US South in the 1960s. They died there – mother, father and sister – in a car accident. They worked with the Industrial Workers of the World, collaborating with African American civil rights organizers and the American Indian Movement. They were human rights organizers who loved jazz and art.
Their ways of being are in my bones, muscles and blood that push and nudge and guide me. When I got to know their story, I finally made sense. I belonged somewhere. And I choose this path every day.
My high sensory awareness and deep felt sense of the sentient, moving world also moves my lifelong explorations of dance, embodiment, art, story, spirituality and rituals that anchor our stories, our collective meanings, and ignite fires for what is possible. I have been blessed to be personally mentored by Indigenous spiritual and creative leaders, and to facilitate and co-create rituals of passage, international healing circles, transformative justice interventions, and with circular economy innovators from the Arctic to the Equator.
I’m interested in joy, in communities and systems of uplift and activation. Joy is collective, humble and energizing. On the few days that I don’t touch joy, I know that whatever discomfort I’m sitting in will open to a new facet of myself in the collective world once whatever is changing, does.
“Another way is coming,” Ahrundahti Roy notes, and “if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing…”.