Tag Archives: Metro Morning

Pondering the CBC series: The Nirmalendran Brothers

11 Sep

Today on CBC’s Metro Morning I heard the fourth segment of the series The Nirmalendran Brothers. It’s the only one I have heard, and the podcast isn’t up yet – but check back to listen at http://www.cbc.ca/metromorning/).

The focus today was on Christopher Husbands who has been found guilty of two counts of murder. They interviewed one of his teachers (whose name I can’t remember, sadly) and she spoke about the Town Hall CBC held in Regent Park when Christopher was just 13, and how he arrived visibly shaken and crying. He had been pulled over by the police, and roughed up. She encouraged him to speak about it that night, but perhaps it was too fresh. What he did ask at the Town Hall meeting was poignant when you listen with this new context. Something like: “Why isn’t there a police hotline or something that kids can go if they are being harassed, if they are scared?”.

Several things struck me in the teacher’s comments. The one that stands out the most was at the end –  that the ultimate shooting deaths at the hands of Christopher Husbands was not a one dimensional act.

Well said.
And it is true for everything and everyone.
We all bring the layers of experience, perspective and who we are to any action (or word, or inaction). And similarly we bring those same layers to how we see, understand and judge the actions (words and inactions) of others.  For some – like those who are marginalized in society – the impact of this is heavier, and the burden is greater.

For those who are marginalized (in this case because of race, culture, and socio- economic status) the realities are often so removed from the mainstream that it is often difficult (for some, impossible) to imagine what they are experiencing. Because of this, we often don’t believe (don’t want to believe?) that their experiences are true – so far removed are they from how we see and experience people, services, the same city, the world.

The challenge is, however, that it’s the mainstream that judges.
We use our reality to look at a situation and level that judgment, and it’s through our lens that we explain and label.
And in so doing, we often do people a grave disservice.

This clip reminds me that it behooves us to see the bigger picture, to consider the context and therefore to ask good questions in order to peel back the layers and see what is underneath. It doesn’t change the fact, in this case, that two people are dead. But it certainly can provide valuable information to affect necessary change in how we see people and systems; information that could positively impact the lives of those who marginalized, and therefore most vulnerable, in our societies.

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Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator, Consultant and Author on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.

Radio Show Host of Creating Families – Fridays at 11am EST, starting October 2 at www.HealthyLife.net


Disabilities and the Workforce

2 Aug

Monday on CBC radio’s Metro Morning, one of the topics was people with disabilities in the Canadian workforce – or rather the lack thereof (listen here).

People with disabilities make up about 17% of the Canadian population, and experience  higher unemployment rates  (4x the national average), and high underemployment. The main barrier that Joe Dale (the ED of the Ontario Disability Employment Network) was explaining to fill-in host Jane Hawtin are people’s myths and misconceptions.


The interview made me think about language, and how we label people – or rather how we label certain people. No one can do everything. Why then, are some of us considered “abled” and others “disabled”. It suddenly seemed a little absurd.

We don’t all do things the same way. But somehow those of us who are considered “abled” are often given leeway to arrive at the end result by our own means without someone looking over our shoulder or judging the way we got there. When we need help or are unable to do something,we are usually able to receive assistance without too much fanfare. But the level of discomfort about “accommodations” for people with disabilities can be startling.

I wonder what it would be like if we didn’t have labels like disabled and abled? Would there be more space in a workplace (school, family, community, etc) for people to exhibit their strengths and find support for the things that they found difficult? Would we be better at sharing work so that people really played to their strengths and formed collaborative teams? What if people were just people and their contributions were valued for what they are?

I know. It’s a bit Utopian, but underlying these labels and the grumbling about accommodation is, in my opinion, a definite judgment call on how things should be done, what it should look like, what types of effort it should take, how people should be, and ultimately who has value – which leaves little room for difference (and certainly less room for obvious difference), and consequently also little room for innovation and humanity.

Today that stands out as particularly sad and shortsighted.

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copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion.

Taking another look at Accommodation

24 Feb

This week Michael Bach (Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at KPMG) spoke with Matt Galloway on Metro Morning. In 7:19 minutes he covered a lot, but the thing that struck me most was in the first minute.

Hats off to you Michael, for astutely pointing out that workplaces accommodate everyone.

As ‘Diversity in the Workplace’ has increased in awareness and practice, it amazes me how often accommodation is still seen almost as a dirty word – synonymous with inconvenience. I smiled when I heard Michael say “lights are an accommodation for sighted people. If you are blind you can work even with the lights off”.

Woot! How many times have we thought of that?

The fact is that the Canadian workplace has been structured with certain people in mind – meaning that the accommodations required for the Canadian worker of the past are already (conveniently) built in. Think about it – why doesn’t the work week start on Sunday, for example?

There was much more to this conversation, so it will likely be fodder for a few more blogs. But thanks Michael, for not letting that one go by.

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copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion

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