On Saturday afternoon I joined what seemed like thousands of people outside Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto for Jack Layton’s funeral. It was so good to be there, surrounded by an energy of hope and togetherness. This feeling, I thought, is what inclusion is all about: working together, sharing, moving forward together.
As someone who is committed to Diversity & Inclusion, several things Rev. Brent Hawkes included in his eulogy about Jack Layton struck a chord. I’d like to share them, and my thoughts about them, with you.
First, Rev. Hawkes shared that Jack believed in a broadly inclusive movement towards a better Canada, gathering all of us together. Jack Layton was an optimist, but he also knew that there was still a lot of work to be done. Rev. Hawkes told us that Jack believed in including people from different places, beliefs and approaches in one inclusive movement for a better Canada – and that this included working together in partnership and that different (and dissenting) perspectives were welcome.
In this work, true inclusion makes room for difference – to see it, hear it, and consider it in the movement forward, together.
Rev. Hawkes went on to share that Jack’s goal was to make life better and not to leave anyone behind.
This made me think of how easy it can be to not even notice that we are leaving some people behind (or leaving some people out) and therefore how important it is to check our assumptions and what we think is “the way it is”, and to practice inclusion.
Diversity is a fact and inclusion is an action. Rev. Hawkes added that Jack’s goal of making life better was about how we are with each other as we do the work, and what values guide us.
Finally, Rev. Hawkes told us that Jack Layton’s legacy is not about how much power we have, but how we use the power we are given, and how all of us exercise our personal power for a better world – in our actions and how we take those actions together.
Inclusion is a value and a practice. It is about how we do things, not just about what we do, or who is there. It is about gathering ideas, knowledge and perspectives and moving forward to create something new, together.
It’s a tall order for Canada, and also a tall order for many organizations. But if the energy on Saturday is any indication of the willingness that exists – we can do it.
copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
President, Building Equitable Environment