- Climate change is a health and social justice issue. As community health, we need to take more leadership in giving voice to this. I encourage you to look up The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier who shared with us her perspectives on the impact of climate change on her community and the Inuit people.
- Political environments can change rapidly and we are all struggling with the weight of working in, what appears to be, a rapidly shifting landscape and increased polarization. We need to find ways to support our communities to engage in advocacy at the grassroots, and to also recognize that, as organizations, we must be responsive to changing needs and environments. We have a great deal that we can learn from our friends south of the border, who are working hard to keep the values of community health on the agenda with initiatives such as the Advocacy Centre of Excellence.
- We all need someone who challenges us to be better. For me, this continues to be Lynne Raskin, Executive Director of South Riverdale in Toronto, who is a leader that sets the standard for what we should aspire to be. I had the honour of being there as Lynne was presented with the Joe Leonard Leadership Award from our Ontario partners. Working with Lynne these past three years on the Board of Directors of CACHC, has been an honour (I previously wrote about her advocacy work on supervised consumption sites here). There were so many things that Lynne said that inspired me, but the moment that sticks with me is earlier in the day in her last CACHC board meeting. My colleagues from across Canada were sharing their concerns about the largely political barriers to setting up supervised consumption sites, which we know ultimately save system time, resources and, much more importantly, save lives. As we discussed the topic I heard in the background Lynne’s quiet and insistent voice: “Just Do It” she repeated with a low intensity that grounded and reminded me, we cannot simply lament. We have to lead.
When I took on this role almost five years ago, I could not have predicted all of the ways it would influence my life. It has challenged me in ways I would have never guessed, and it has been both deeply satisfying and, at times, very difficult. I have no doubt that this is true for many people doing this work, whatever part of it you may be involved in.
For the upcoming year, with support from our Boards of Directors and management teams, I have made the decision to reduce my hours to four days a week in order to participate in the Values-Based Leadership Program at Royal Roads University. I made this decision for several reasons: I have heard incredible feedback from colleagues who have attended; I want to develop better strategies to communicate how our shared values are reflected in changes and I want to reflect on and grow from the experiences I have had over the last 12 years as a leader.
Ultimately, I hope to develop more tools to support compassionate, values-driven dialogue both inside and outside our organizations. I am confident that this is the key to creating positive future changes, and is’ the why’ in why so many of us do this work. It is time to just do it, as Lynne would so eloquently say.
I look forward to sharing my experiences with you over the next year.