A Future For Diversity
It is encouraging to see how the leaders,
the business community and the citizens of Winnipeg are building towards a city
At a time when most of the country is
moving away from cultural legacy projects, Assiniboine Park unveiled on Sept. 25,
at a Chamber luncheon, its next phase of development: the Diversity Gardens.
If you want details of the project, go here.
(I highly recommend the video!)
What impressed me in particular was not
just the educational focus on humanity’s relationship with plants, but a
conscious effort to focus on the cultural and historical contexts for that
relationship. One of the more understated parts of the project, the Cultural
Mosaic Gardens, will feature plant displays from the countries and inspired by
the cultures that have contributed to Winnipeg’s history. I am moved to think
that my ancestors, who came over with only a plow, will be represented
somewhere along that walk.
When my great grandparents came over from Ukraine,
they felt it necessary to leave their culture behind. People from Eastern
Europe were seen as backwards. Canada was considered British, so my great
grandparents adapted by only speaking English to their children, and adopting
English customs (thankfully, not the English cooking). Canada has come a long way
since those days, and I hope these gardens represent that.
Our inaugural meeting focused on the
results of a personality test. Now, I’ve studied race, identity, belonging and
perception enough to know that putting people into categories is only useful so
long as it helps us understand a phenomenon, and should be disregarded all the
rest of the time. But as the sort of person who does personality tests just for
kicks - right down to “Which Disney Princess are You?” - this one, put together
by Insights and run by T. Carson and Associates Ltd., was particularly useful.
You see, the day was not about putting
people into little boxes and then labeling them. It was more about building
awareness of how we bring our differences into our work. When we expect
everyone around us to think, act, respond and socialize in the same way, our
work environment can quickly become toxic. After all, 86% of conflict in the
workplace is caused by warring egos and personality clashes.*
I’m pleased to know that this program,
which is geared to raising up leaders in our community, kicks off by raising
our own diversity-awareness. I look forward to seeing how we learn to build on
each other’s strengths, adapt to each other’s shortcomings, and recognize when
someone is just having a bad day. I look forward to meeting my team for our project,
because in my experience, teams with diverse personality types have the
If you want to read more on diversity and
multiculturalism, please check out my blog.
Oh, and by the way, the answer to which Disney Princess are You
is, I’m Elsa.
*”Warring Egos, Toxic Individuals, Feeble
Leadership: A study of conflict in the Canadian workplace”, Psychometrics
Canada Ltd., 2009, p. 4.