The Stories Initiative


Emmanuel Martin-Jean


To hear/read about diverse experiences is a wonderful thing to learn and grow. This openness can bring the answer to a question you’ve been pondering or the capacity to look at a problem in a new, more comprehensive, way. Working in education, Libraries are a world within our own where magic can happen. I myself always felt at home in libraries during my studies and knew that the people working there had knowledge and experiences to share. When Inclusifyy started, I was eager to learn and to engage.


Then came the Stories initiative. Not only do they have experiences to share, these experiences are powerful. And the best is that every institution and enterprise can learn from them. Take the experience of Sheila Laroque for example. Inclusion experts and project managers positions are booming right now, but she has often found herself “being the Indigenous person on the Indigenous project; and if we aren’t more fully supporting our staff to expand their skills to include a well-rounded skill-set, then we are burning out our colleagues unnecessarily.” It is easy, but also beneficial, for an institution to use its own resources to bring more inclusion, but when these resources are persons, they also need to be supported in return. This cry of the heart reverberates all the unheard voices in the same situation.


Similarly, the voice of Tamara Noor rises when she finds a way “to help shape the conversation surrounding the issue of inclusion and give underrepresented individuals the spotlight to speak their minds on an open-access platform” even though she is still early in her career.


And the powerful force that is her youth is answered by the tranquil wisdom of Deb Thomas whom dedicated her career to be the “respectful ally”.


In between these, you find the story of Robyn Gray who witnessed beautiful and sad moments while providing support to 37 rural library in offering a better service to indigenous patrons.


But, in case you’re wondering, these stories aren’t only about libraries. Take some time to go and read the youth story of how Rodney Freeman’s ice cream quest (to meet a love interest of course) almost turned into a tragic (and euphemistic) misunderstanding. Or the Canadian road-trip of Hailey McCullough. Or the tale of invisible diversity of Colette Poitras. You will find these are powerful and human experiences that could have an impact on your vision of the world.


This post would not be complete without acknowledging the silent story behind these: the story of Amanda Fernandez, librarian turned entrepreneur, who makes inclusion in the workplace her mission.


I was kindly asked to share my experience with this initiative, and it is an honour for me to be able to thank you all publicly for your generosity. It takes courage to share such personal stories and, at least for me, they have created inestimable value.


To conclude I wish to paraphrase Sheila Laroque: We’re in very interesting time in our society; we know what and where we need to change, but we’re not sure how. Reading these stories may help you a little if you’re interested in finding the answer.


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Bio: Emmanuel Martin-Jean is a teacher and education specialist. He works with a variety of learners and learns from them all. He is now an Inclusive Pedagogy Project Manager for the Association des collèges privés du Québec and advisor. In his spare time, he gives various media literacy workshops for children and Tai Chi classes for beginners. Tambièn corre en la hierba con su hijita.

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