Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I came to ULethbridge as a student in 2018, the same year I moved here from Connecticut in the U.S. to be with my wife, who lives in Lethbridge. Soon after starting my undergrad, I began working as a staff member at the Campus Collective Centre (then known as the Women’s Centre). I gained a great deal of experience and insight from working there as an administrator, student advocate and campus organizer. As a queer, transgender woman, I am very passionate about addressing issues on campus that impact 2SLGBTQ+ students and employees. In the summer of 2020, I was connected with Kathleen Massey to be part of a student working group focused on fostering a more inclusive and welcoming campus for 2SLGBTQ+ students. In the spring of 2021, I hosted a workshop through the CCC on gender-inclusive language and pronoun use for staff and faculty. This workshop drew the attention of Ariane Tennant, the associate vice-president of Human Resources, who asked me to provide similar sessions for university upper management. Following a great deal of interest from various entities across campus to engage further in this work, I was given the opportunity to work in HR as the resident gender EDI consultant to begin to address student and employee experiences around gender diversity. I am still an undergraduate, approaching my final year in the BSW program through the University of Calgary. I have learned a great deal within my position and I had the opportunity to meet and work with students, staff, and the many departments and administrators that help our university run. I look forward to continuing that work.
How long have you been at ULethbridge and what do you do here?
I have been a student attending the ULethbridge campus for four years. I have been a gender EDI consultant since July 2021, and I also currently work as an assistant and project lead in Human Resources to streamline filing processes and procedures alongside my many EDI-centred projects. I collaborate with Martha Mathurin-Moe, director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, along with many other individuals and offices across campus in the work of fostering an inclusive working and learning environment for queer and trans individuals.
What's the best part of your job?
I enjoy getting to work with so many different folks who bring different perspectives, experiences and skill sets to the table. As a mature student, a white settler and recent immigrant, I don’t always have a full understanding of all the contexts and histories that impact marginalized individuals and communities on our campus.
I value being able to work with folks with diverse perspectives to enrich my understanding and ensure I am doing my best work while keeping in mind the intersectional and complex nature of marginalized identities on campus.
I also love being in a position that is largely self-directed. I worked for almost a decade in the customer service field, where I was very much a cog in a larger machine. In my current position, I am empowered to utilize my passion, creativity, and education to not only locate issues or opportunities for improvement, but find solutions and ways to implement them.
With June being Pride Month, what should we all keep in mind to help foster inclusiveness?
The biggest step someone who wishes to be an active and engaged ally can take is to educate themselves. Too often, queer and trans folks have to place themselves in a potentially vulnerable location to advocate for their inclusion and safety or take on unpaid emotional and physical labour to educate others.
Taking the time to educate ourselves on the basics of gender and sexual identity and how cisnormative and heteronormative systems create hardship for 2SLGBTQ+ folks is an important step.
It is also important to remember that while we celebrate Pride one month out of the year, queer and trans folks and the struggles we face exist 365 days a year. Including queer and trans perspectives and experiences in our work year round is a way we can avoid the tendency to fly flags and wear buttons during June and then put those away on July 1 as a symbolic “forgetting” of those individuals and communities for the rest of the year. I always say in my education sessions, if you only take one thing away, let is be this: if you don’t know how to support 2SLGBTQ+ folks in your space, ask them. Consultation is the first step in fostering inclusiveness, followed by meaningful action based on those recommendations.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love being outdoors and my wife and I spend as much of the summer as possible hiking and camping in the mountains. I love to draw and write and have been working on a fiction novel series for a few years now. I also have a green thumb and my house is filled with far too many plants. I am also an avid consumer of visual media and love watching and rewatching TV shows and movies that pique my interest as a writer and all-around nerd.