With thanks to Doug Piquette

Image Doug

At our January Event we bid farewell to Doug Piquette (Founding Member) as he stepped down from the Board.  Doug is the Executive Director of the Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council. At ERIEC Doug is involved in establishing, managing and advancing the strategic priorities and direction of this Edmonton based organization. Doug brings a breadth of diverse experience to ERIEC previously working for over 20 years in project design and management in the community economic development field. Doug also spent several years project managing community economic development projects in South America. Doug is a graduate from the University of Victoria (B.Sc.) and the University of Waterloo (Economic Development).  Doug will continue to attend EBDN Network Events and will always be an EBDN Ambassador.

Below is a picture of Doug accepting his scepter of appreciation and a copy of his farewell message, which was read by Fred Paquette, Membership Officer.

doug farewell

farewell to Doug


EBDN Event: Intergenerational Trauma: A First Nations Perspective, presented by Ruby Littlechild. May 13, 2020

Ruby opened by sharing her Cree name with us.  It is Kihew Pihesiew Iskwew, which means Eagle Thunderblood woman

Ruby gave an honest and informative presentation, referencing events and patterns of our past to understand the focus for healing and growth in our present.  She spoke of her desire to instill empathy, not sympathy, quoting Dr. Anne Anderson, “You don’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you came from.

Ruby spoke from her own experience of the many barriers faced by Indigenous peoples, including:

  • Lack of literacy and education
  • Cultural differences/identities
  • Racism, Discrimination, Stereotypes, Stigmas
  • Lack of Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence, Self Esteem (Not sure how to heal)
  • Poverty, poor housing, transportation
  • Lack of adequate child care

She spoke with vulnerability and honesty about oppression and the harm that comes from victimization that becomes part of our identity.  She spoke of internalized oppression, the process by which a member of an oppressed group comes to accept and live out the inaccurate myths and stereotypes applied to the group.  Quoting Michael Denneny, “We hate ourselves because we grew up and live in a society that hates us”.

Part of addressing Truth and Reconciliation is over-turning myths and misconceptions that continue to distort perspectives of Indigenous peoples in Canada.  See resources for a video on stereotypes of Indigenous people.

Ruby talked specifically on a number of topics relevant to First Nations and intergenerational trauma:

  • The profound impact of Residential Schools on a spiritual people who weren’t allowed to pray, to sing, to dance, creating a craving for spirituality and the place that people are hungry for healing.  This emptiness is what addictions are trying to fill.
  • Intergenerational Trauma is known by losses, loss of meaning, family, childhood, feeling desensitised, loss of culture, identity and ceremonies.
  • Truth & Reconciliation – Ruby shared a link to a video on What is Reconciliation to support us to understand the context of what coming from these past patterns means.
  • Health & Wellness – In speaking to health, wellness and balance, Ruby spoke about resilience, the ability to bounce back and grow and thrive during stress, challenge and change.  She shared the Medicine Wheel with four aspects to our nature – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual as a way to participate in something greater than yourself to develop yourself as a healthy, well-balanced individual through the development and use of volition.
  • Decolonization – She also described Decolonization as a movement towards spirituality, wholeness, wellness, serenity, balance, equality, respect, empowerment, and communication.  Decolonization is a process to re-evaluate what we have internalized and the systemic change in our society.

Making a Difference

How can workplaces support Indigenous employees in a positive way who have been traumatized and how can Indigenous employees find that support?

  1. For Indigenous employees, if you develop self-awareness, to know who you are you are no longer the person who is bullied – this takes away the power of lateral violence in the workplace, takes away its power over you.
  2. Provide flexible work hours, work at home policies to help when things come up from trauma history/recovery.
  3. Find champions/allies – stay close to them.

To be a change agent as a Cree woman, Ruby learned to find champions, walk with them, learn and grow.  To question different approaches to leadership.


Ruby shared a variety of resources with us throughout her presentation including:

CBC video on the 60s Scoop – https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1261820995891.

What is Reconciliation – https://vimeo.com/25389165

Wab Kinew on stereotypes of Indigenous peoples. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlkuRCXdu5A

+cheryl@kindpower.ca I’m not sure I understand the go away from convo with their old beliefs. Can you explain this? TIA

_Assigned to Cheryl Whitelaw_

EBDN Event: Resistance to Diversity and Inclusion with Cheryl Whitelaw, Kind Power

Thank you to everyone who joined our first virtual EBDN event last week.  We persevered through some technology hiccups and distractions from those working at home.

Cheryl opened by posing the question: Why do we still face resistance to Diversity and Inclusion?

She offered one lens to look at resistance and how we as Diversity and Inclusion practitioners can approach people who resist.

This presentation comes out of an acknowledgement that people are rarely changed when someone tells them they need to change.  Cheryl acknowledged the vulnerability of looking at the place where what we are doing as D & I practitioners isn’t working.

Look At/Look As lens

We can “Look AT” them – viewing people who resist D & I from our own lenses.  Looking at people who resist brings in a structural distance Me over here and them over there.  A form of othering.

We can “Look As” them – this is taking their perspective, bringing curiosity, imagination, empathy.

People who resist D and I have different perspectives than we tend to have as supporters of D & I.  And they are also responding to what they feel from us.

This kind of perspective taking is a known skill for D and I practitioners.  So why don’t we do it with people who resist?

Cheryl shared a couple of possibilities which could explain this:

  1. Looking at this topic is also looking at the space where what we do in our D and I work doesn’t work. This could change our state – how we feel (e.g. shame, desire to blame others for resisting).
  2. It is harder to use our abilities for empathy, for curiosity when we encounter opposition. Harder to use the power we have in the face of opposition.
  3. We can feel outrage – outrage is good for spreading a message on social media, to energize, galvanize action, social movements, political change. The limits of outrage – create space where the people we want to influence tune us out.  What conversations are we not having while we are outraged?

Relationships move at the speed of trust.  Social change moves at the speed of relationships. (An Invitation to Brave Space, Jennifer Bailey and Lemon Flowers).

Cheryl also provided a strategy to deal with this – shifting from Calling Out to Calling In.   While there are contexts that Calling Out is appropriate, Calling In offers an opportunity to stay in relationship with the person while discussing the issue, the behavior, the situation in question.   What is key in having Calling In work is self-composure, knowing your why, assessing when you can have this conversation.

Resources on Calling In are included in the resource list below.

Cheryl closed with a video using Aikido, a Japanese martial art, to illustrate the kind of power, centeredness, groundedness quality that is helpful to maintain connection with your own values, beliefs and perspectives while in conflict with someone who opposes you.

Senshin Center


In watching the first 4 minutes of the video, watch the person with a black top.  Does he look grounded? Strong?  Who is controlling this interaction?  Who is the attacker?

It is this quality of internal strength, power and integrity that is needed to humanize interactions with people who resist D and I.

2020-04 Cheryl Zoom

Resistance to Diversity and Inclusion – Resources

Befriending Radical Disagreement


Calling In

Looking at people who resist diversity and inclusion

Why Unconscious Bias Training Doesn’t Work

Inclusion Continuum

Hot/Cold Empathy Gap





EBDN Event: Difficult Conversations with Dr. Wanda Costen

Thank you to everyone who braved the cold and joined EBDN to kick off our 2020 series of workshops, on January 8. A special thanks to our event sponsors, Patricia Pasemko, On Site Placement and Aaron Spink, TD Wealth.

Dr. Wanda Costen, Dean of the MacEwan School of Business energetically shared insightful and practical strategies to help reduce procrastination when engaging with difficult conversations.

Dr. Costen’s proposed a Difficult Conversation self – checklist to help you define the purpose of the conversation before you begin:

    • Is it about me, my emotional response, my ego?
    • What is the best and the worst thing that can happen? If the worst thing that can happen seriously outweighs the best thing, it is probably not a conversation that you need to have.
    • What is my role in the situation?
    • Which of my buttons is being pushed?
    • Am I calling someone out because I need them to know they are wrong? Or am I helping them be more self-aware about their impact on others?

Reasons for holding a difficult conversation

Good reasons to have a difficult conversation include asking someone to change behavior or sharing bad news. Procrastinating on difficult conversations often makes things worse, situations can escalate, behavior can worsen and relationships become more emotionally charged over time.

Tips & Tricks for Managing Difficult Conversations:

  • Focus on solving the problem to achieve a win-win relationship.
    • Be specific about what the issue is.
  • Acknowledge the emotional content of the conversation.
    • Allow for timeouts for both parties as and when needed.
  • Be aware of your verbal and body language.
    • Both contribute to how we are perceived. For example – if your arms are crossed, the other party may perceive that you aren’t invested in the discussion and may result in unnecessary escalation.
  • Be an Active Listener – Hear and acknowledge the other person’s perspective.
    • If you can move from certainty (I know I’m right) to curiosity, you will create an environment in which others feel safe to openly share differing views.
  • Seek to Understand
    • The different interpretations individuals have means you will be able to check your assumptions and adapt to the other parties perspective.

The most important lesson to remember of Dr. Costen’s presentation is that mastering the art of difficult conversation is a skill that comes with time, and that we will always have more learning to do in order to be competent.

Dr Costen ended the presentation with a review of how the Dimensions of Diversity will impact all the difficult conversations that you have. You need to understand and recognize how others view the world in the context of the conversations you need to have.

Many thanks to Dr. Wanda Costen for her generosity in supporting the EBDN community!

About the EBDN

We look forward to continuing this discussion at a future session and more immediately online. Do you have questions, thoughts, ideas on this topic? If so take it to our Linkedin page (https://www.linkedin.com/company/ebdn/)  and let’s take the discussion further.

If you are not yet a member, please review our Membership page and submit a request to join .  A member of our team will be in touch.

If you are interested in speaking at an event or hosting an event, please email EBDiversityn@gmail.com.

Our next event will be held on 11 March 2020 at Finning and will include a presentation by Cheryl Whitelaw from Kind Power Coaching and Consulting on “Dealing with resistance to D&I efforts.”. 

Conversation Cafe

On 10 December we held our first conversation café outside the downtown core.  Thanks to Argus Machine for hosting!

The topic for the day was the intersectionality of diversity &inclusion and the world of professional sports. We had the following articles/references to help in preparation for the discussion:

We talked about the universal language of sport and how it can be a great leveller when you change the conversation from differences (gender, disability etc.) to ability in the sport itself.  The importance of role models was discussed and we asked “what are the possibilities to help teach everyone through sports?”

We learnt about the Motion Ball initiative in high schools, which provides safe spaces to educate and integrate through social and sporting events in support of the Special Olympics.  We talked about the importance of seeing the ability rather than the disability, which is what Brad’s parents did for him (Made by Brad).

The value of sports for fun rather than for competition was discussed.  Moving away from the need to win at all costs in sports including and celebrating those who aren’t the strongest; how parents are pulling kids from teams that only have the winning focus as the community aspect is more important for them.  One attendee is a coach who has had to speak to other parents, working to change the conversation and explain that winning isn’t his only focus.

We acknowledged that Millenials have the advantage of being raised in an inclusive environment, while older members in society have more relearning to do.  It’s important to embrace this learning rather than use age as an excuse to get away with unacceptable behaviour.  At this point we talked through the Don Cherry situation, where the network have encouraged Don to behave in a certain way as it gets them ratings; however, at the same time this isn’t acceptable and he should have been reined in years ago.

The conversation then moved onto sports in schools, and memories we all have of ‘school yard picks’ – not wanting to be the last chosen to be in a team and the potential damage that can do to a child as the weakest is usually left to the last if we follow the culture of winning. Does this action have a long term impact on a person’s life?  A participant shared that they had recently had an employee engagement event where they asked attendees to get into teams themselves, which she wondered could have had the same impact.

We touched on a grassroots program (www.u-b-u.ca) which provides programming on explaining the strong connection of mind and body and how we need to nuture both, from a mixed and girl-specific approach

That led us to finish with discussions on childhood and intergenerational trauma and how we can accommodate people in the workplace, the importance of understanding mental health and looking at the individual when each situation arises.  The goal being to set people up for success where we can; acknowledging we also have a business to run and it’s a balancing act.  Will employees tell us the circumstances they need to be the best employee they can be?

EBDN Event: How to be an Ally

On September 11, 2019 the group met together after a summer break. The room vibrated with chatter and energy as members filtered in and mingled with connections new and old. September often feels like a new start and a new year – and our event was no different. The focus was on taking action.

“The word ally is a verb – saying you’re an ally is not enough, you have to do the work.” 

Our very own Erin Davis and Jill Chesley, Current and Past Chairs of EBDN, shared learnings and led a very practical conversation on how to be an ally.

We started with looking inward – it starts with “me”. How do we experience the world? What privileges or benefits do I get as a result of who I am that I never asked for? They expertly closed the table discussions and sharing noting that we don’t need to apologize for having privilege – it’s about what we do or don’t do with it.

So what is an ally? An ally is someone who is not a member of an underrepresented or marginalized group but takes action to support that group. What that action might look like, will be different for each of us.

How can we show up as allies?

  • Do no harm – get to know people, listen and learn, jump in with respectful curiosity
  • Advocate in small ways – intervene, hold space for others to speak, take away the spotlight for marginalized groups to advocate for themselves
  • Create a big change – take action + jump all in

Below are links to both the videos that were shared with tips on how to be an ally. Where will you be sharing them?

Thank you to the City of Edmonton, TD Bank and Argus Machine Co. Ltd. for sponsoring this event.

2019-09 how to be an ally

Jill Chesley and Erin Davis presenting to EBDN Members on how to be an Ally.

EBDN Event: Revisiting Reconciliation – Recommitting to Reconciliation

On May 8, 2019 we wrapped up our 2019 season with an thought-provoking and educational  presentation from our guest speaker – Miranda Jimmy, Co-Founder of Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton (RISE) on the impact of residential schools on survivors, the mandate of TRC and the subsequent 94 Calls to Action,  and the need to keep the conversation alive and on the minds of all Canadians and the Federal Government.

She shared many stories and quotes from residential school survivors regarding their experience and had participants read their quotes within their groups. The room was silent and the emotion palpable. By engaging us in the experience and with the words of the survivors, we were encouraged to no longer sit silent, to bear witness and carry the story – to watch, listen, show and respect those stories of experience.

We were then encouraged to write three things we would do to bear witness or to change in our practice and acknowledgment of reconciliation which she would take and mail back to us in three months to track participants progress.

Key Takeaways

  • The last residential school operated by the Canadian government, Gordon Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, was closed in 1996.
  • The impact of residential schools doesn’t end with the closure of schools, it is felt through generations and only together can we heal, recover and rebuild
  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed in 2008 with a mandate to create a historical account of residential schools, help people to heal, and encourage reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.
  • The Commission conducted hundreds of interviews and events throughout Canada to document the impact and legacy of the residential school system
  • A report was produced in 2015 containing 94 Calls to Action were made, including:
    • Overrepresentation of Indigenous children in government care.
    • High rates of violence in Indigenous households.
    • National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Below are some links for further reading:


What will you do to bear witness and recommit to reconciliation?

About the EBDN

We look forward to continuing this discussion at a future session and more immediately online. Do you have questions, thoughts, ideas on this topic? If so take it to our Linkedin page (https://www.linkedin.com/company/ebdn/)  and let’s take the discussion further.

If you are not yet a member, please review our Membership page and submit a request to join .  A member of our team will be in touch.

If you are interested in speaking at an event or hosting an event, please email EBDiversityn@gmail.com.

Our next event will be held on 11 September 2019 and will include a presentation from Jill Chesley (City of Edmonton: Senior Diversity and Inclusion Consultant) and Erin Davis (Stantec: Director, Global Talent Engagement) on “How to be an Ally.”


EBDN Event: Understanding the experiences of Indigenous people in the work place.

Happy New Year! EBDN kicked off the start of 2019 with an in-depth panel discussion on the experiences of indigenous people in the workplace.

Many thanks to our panel members for taking the time to share their story with us and provide a meaningful dialogue with those in attendance.  The conversation could have continued for much longer!

The panel included:

Each panelist shared stories of their personal experiences within the work place and discussed how we can all make a difference in creating an inclusive environment.

Some key highlights puled from the morning’s discussion include:

  • Think differently about how we’re attracting, recruiting, and retaining people.
    • A story was shared about the new Edmonton Police Chief, Dale McFee, a Metis, and the work he had done in Prince Albert, where in the same role he grew the number of Indigenous officers to 38%.
  • Be open and interested and acknowledge cultural differences
  • Be flexible and prepared to meet people where they’re at
    • Shelly spoke to the importance of creating circumstances that generate a place where people want to work. She shared the story of Naoka Incorporated, an Indigenous owned company located in Sherwood Park where she employs a number of people who you may not typically see in a traditional workspace, but she has worked with her employees to find an arrangement that is both flexible and meaningful for all parties which has resulted in a very productive and inclusive environment
  • Let go of your preconceived notions and perceptions

We look forward to continuing this discussion at a future session and more immediately online. Do you have questions, thoughts, ideas on this topic? If so take it to our Linkedin page (https://www.linkedin.com/company/ebdn/)  and let’s take the discussion further.

If you are not yet a member, please review our Membership page and submit a request to join .  A member of our team will be in touch.

EBDN looks forward to bringing you meaningful, engaging and thought provoking content throughout the remainder of the year.

Our next session is scheduled for March 13, 2019 on the topic of Microagressions with Farah Merali at the Stantec Tower. Stay tuned for more information in the month to come. If you are not on our distribution list, please email us at EBDiversityn@gmail.com



EBDN Event: ERIEC 2018 Business Leaders Breakfast

On November 6, 2018, EBDN was pleased to once again be a part of ERIEC’s 2018 Business Leaders Breakfast and further the keynote address with a meaningful and rapid fire roundtable discussion on practical tips for creating a welcoming business culture. Dr. Rachel Pettigrew was kind enough to stick around for the EBDN workshop.
Below you will find an overview of the morning’s events kindly provided by the ERIEC team.

ERIEC 2018 Business Leaders Breakfast
This year’s breakfast speaker was Dr. Rachael Pettigrew, an Assistant Professor at Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University in Calgary. Rachael’s research focus is currently on organizational policies and culture surrounding employees’ management of work and life responsibilities, with a specific focus on both gender and diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She has also managed several large research projects on newcomer settlement and employment.

Dr. Pettigrew’s presentation Building a Welcoming Organizational Culture for Professional Newcomers provided a compelling overview of the diversity and inclusion environment in many Canadian workplaces and some valuable tips on how organizations can enhance their office culture to attract and retain their talent pool.

eriec 2018

Here are some comments from some of the event participants:

  • Thank you very much for organizing the event! It was exceptionally valuable for a newcomer & job seeker. Dr. Pettigrew’s presentation resonated with my own personal experiences.
  • Good session this morning! This is a reminder of past learnings & some new ideas to move forward on!
  • Great presentation by Rachael. A great discussion and info sharing opportunity after the presentation.
  • I believe it was a great way to open up about the topics of diversity and inclusion. It was amazing to have the workshop to generate discussion and bring ideas forward about a working business culture.

EBDN Workshop – A Focus on Practical Tips for Creating a Welcoming Business Culture
The keynote address was followed by a brief workshop, facilitated by the EBDN (Edmonton Business Diversity Network). Each table group discussed 3 questions.
1. What has worked well in your organization when it comes to creating a welcoming business culture?
2. What challenges have you faced in your organization when it comes to creating a welcoming business culture?
3. What resources have you utilized to help build a welcoming business culture?


  • Creating a welcoming organizational culture is crucial because it sets business up for success with things like employee happiness, productivity, engagement and more.
  • A welcoming culture is key in making or breaking the business’ future because it’s often the determining factor in their ability to attract and retain the talent needed to serve customers or target markets.

We want to hear from you – From your perspective, what makes a welcoming business culture? How would you respond to those questions above. Let’s continue the discussion on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/ebdn/). If you are not yet a member, submit a request to join and a member of our team will get back to you.

Edmonton Business Diversity Network (EBDN) workshops are an opportunity to hear and discuss various issues facing local business leaders with respect to the hiring, integrating and retaining all professionals within the Edmonton region.