Transcript – Episode 46: A chat with Marta Morgan and LGBTQ2+ Champion Stewart Wheeler and guests

Welcome to the GAC Files, a podcast about the people, issues and ideas driving Global Affairs Canada.

And now introducing your host, Global Affairs Canada’s deputy minister of International Trade, John Hannaford.

John Hannaford: Okay. Hello, everybody. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to have another conversation about our community here in our department. This is an opportunity for an important discussion about the community of members of our department in the LGBTQ2+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit and all other groups] community.

And I’m very happy to have with me today as co-host, a frequent guest on our podcast, Marta Morgan. Hi Marta, good to see you.

Marta Morgan: Hi, John. Nice to see you, too.

John Hannaford: So we wanted to have this conversation. We’ve been doing a fair bit of work in the deputy community, and in the department generally, around inclusion. And that manifests itself in a number of different ways. But we thought it’s really important to have a discussion around the LGBTQ2+ community as part of that suite of issues with respect to inclusion.

Marta, you know, we discussed this as an opportunity to have a bit of a round table, bit of conversation with some colleagues here. And I think it’s a great chance to hear from people about a variety of different experiences that they’ve had in our department and, you know, in the various situations that the department presents, including postings abroad.

Marta Morgan: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it, John. It’s great to be back on your podcast, and I think this is a really important subject that we’re going to be talking about today.

You know, one of the things that I always say is that we are only as good as our people. All we really have as a department is our people. That’s what gets things done for us. And so it’s really important for us to have a department that is inclusive, that’s welcoming, that allows people to be themselves, that supports people and that recognizes talent in whatever form it comes in. So I think that all the conversations that we’re having about diversity and inclusion, including today’s, are really important. It’s important for employees, it’s important for managers and it’s important for the organization too.

John Hannaford: We have 4 guests with us today to discuss this important subject. Stewart Wheeler, who is the chief of protocol and our champion on LGBTQ2+ issues; Taryn Husband, who is currently working in the Human Rights of Women and Girls division and is the chair of the GAC Pride Network; Melanie Bejzyk, who is first secretary at our embassy in Paris; and Kevin Lunianga, who is a senior operations officer and serves as the liaison between the Pride and Visible Minority networks that works here in the department. Welcome to all of you. It’s a real pleasure to get a chance to see you and a pleasure to get a chance to chat about this important topic.

Maybe we could start with Stewart. Stewart I just wanted to hear from you a little bit more about kind of the scope of your responsibilities as champion and the kind of objectives you have and just some reflections from the perspective of a senior member of the community and a senior member of the department.

Stewart Wheeler: Sure. Thank you very much, Deputy. First of all, thank you for welcoming us here today. It’s funny, when I think about my role as the champion, I can’t help but be reminded that we’ve come a long way. When I started in the department, and that’s 20, over 26 years now, I was mostly in the closet. My partner wasn’t recognized by my society or my employer. And when we went on our first posting, he had no visa, he had no health care, he had no recognition by the host country that we were living in, despite it being in a modern advanced society. And we were essentially left to our own devices through, of course, an underground pink triangle network of colleagues, which has always existed, but, really, had to figure out for ourselves how life was going to be and how we might need to adapt to that life and still, you know, be able to function as a young diplomat.

But then fast forwarding to now, where we have this very active Pride Network that’s working in partnership, really, with the department and HR [human resources] particularly, but other parts of the department, to ensure things like that staff have access to vital information that’s updated on a regular basis about accreditation and rights overseas, about quality of life if they’re considering living overseas, or to ensure that the diverse members of our community feel comfortable and welcomed in their in their work environments. I mean, I think kind of, wow, we have come a long way. For me, the champion’s role is really to work with the network, whether that’s to support or advise or advance the issues that they bring up and are interested in working on. I’m only the second person to be in this role, but the Pride Network itself has existed for years.

And in fact, that’s why I’m delighted today to have with us Melanie, who’s at the Paris mission, as you said, and who’s one of the co-founders of the network, and also to have Danny, who’s our current president. You know, he is leading with Kevin and others on a whole network of … or a whole series activities across the network, really, to raise awareness, to advance collaboration on key issues that matter to the community. And so I’ll let them speak a little bit more about some of the things that we’re focusing on.

Maybe one final thing I’d say, though, is I’m really pleased to be able to kind of leverage my current position as chief of protocol to bring our network into contact more and connect with the really growing international community of LGBTQ2+ diplomats, both here at home. We’ve got out ambassadors in the diplomatic core in Ottawa, and we’ve been doing events together with them. We’ve been bringing the Diplomats for Equality group of diplomats and allies into our events and engaging with them so that we can learn also from what other foreign ministries that are really taking a leadership role on these issues are doing too. So anyway, I think it’s a really exciting role, and I’m really pleased that we’re all here to share it with you today.

John Hannaford: Where would you say … if you were to identify something you really want to see changed, then, over the course of the next, say, 2 years, what would you identify as an opportunity for us to do better?

Stewart Wheeler: To do better? Well, you know, I think there’s been some real advancements. Melanie may talk a little bit later about the work on the accreditation and information dashboard that really the network started years ago collecting as a volunteer effort just so that we could share it amongst ourselves. And that’s been taken over by the department and mainstreamed as a tool at the department. So, kind of, a challenge that I think, is to be able to move these things from being issues that the community focuses on to being valued by the institution. So whether that’s … you know, we do a lot of work around the world raising issues about LGBTQ2+ rights. I want to work together with the people working on the LES [locally engaged staff] community to make sure that we are putting our arms around our LGBTQ2+ staff around the world to make sure that we’re understanding their perspectives and, sort of, walking that talk in what we do as an employer. I think there’s some really interesting things that have come out of the COVID time. We’ve realized, I think, this past year, that the networks that we have, these D and I [diversity and inclusion] networks aren’t, or shouldn’t be, HQ centric kind of activity groups, which perhaps in the past they have been a little bit. You know, we did this amazing event in the fall for Transgender Day of Remembrance. And we had 5 times the participation from all around the world because we did it online, because we did it virtually, because we had speakers from across Canada. So, you know, I think there’s some stuff that has been a silver lining in terms of learning this year. But I think the network and the relationship with the department and really putting together an active strategy and action plan on D and I I think that’s all going in the right direction, and we can help.

Marta Morgan: Thanks Stewart, that was really interesting. Maybe I could ask a question, John, if that’s okay.

I know that for the foreign affairs department there are specific challenges for the members of the LGBTQ2+ community, given the international aspect of our work, and Stewart touched on this question a little. But perhaps I could ask you, Melanie, a question, because I know that you are for the moment on posting at the Canadian embassy to France, and I think that is relevant to the discussion. It’s very important because several of our colleagues in the community work in our mission network. So I’d really like to have your perspective on the specific challenges the members of the community face at missions abroad and also what the local employees experience.

Melanie Bejzyk: Yes, thanks for the invitation. I’m very happy to be with you. First, regarding Canadian employees, life abroad presents a range of opportunities, of course, and of personal challenges. And for LGBTQ2+ employees, I think other considerations come into play. When I was working at Canada’s mission at the United Nations, I would say that I had to decide at least 193 times if I wanted to come out. Employees often have to consider their level of comfort and their personal safety before coming out, making friends and making other decisions in their everyday life. For example, can I mention that I have a same-sex partner? Will people treat me differently if they know that I’m transgender? For example, will my child be a victim of discrimination at their school when they say they have 2 fathers or 2 mothers? Will I have access to health care if I’m HIV-positive?

And as Stewart already mentioned, a few years ago our LGBTQ2+ network recognized this was a problematical situation and proposed giving more information to our employees. So in collaboration with the department, for the first time we surveyed all the missions abroad on accreditation, national laws, living conditions of Canadian LGBTQ2+ employees. And we created a tool to help LGBTQ2+ employees, as well as to help the department, to make decisions about postings abroad. 

You also asked me to say something about locally engaged staff members. I am not locally engaged, but I can say that among locally engaged LGBTQ2+ employees, some can find that working in a Canadian mission can be liberating. Nevertheless, many don’t come out because they’re afraid of being ostracized if they do. Outside missions, the consequences of being LGBTQ2+ on their reputation, their safety, their family can be serious.

And even at a Canadian mission, there can be locally engaged staff members or Canadians who are hostile to LGBTQ2+ employees. Local laws may mean that an LES [locally engaged staff member] doesn’t have access to health-care benefits for their partner while their heterosexual LES colleagues do. Even though every person has their own beliefs, we’re working in a Canadian mission and we need to do all we can to promote respect for Canadian values, including human rights. So discrimination must never be tolerated, obviously. And our network and several missions are now actively working to, for example, promote inclusive workplaces by making sure their employees get sensitivity training on LGBTQ2+ discrimination. And finally, for LGBTQ2+ employees, our intersectional identities, such as ethnicity, age, ability... combined, affect our experience. And these differences can exacerbate the discrimination we suffer. Still, our Pride Network works to make this diversity a force for innovative solutions and also lets us tackle the challenges faced by our department and our world.

John Hannaford: Thanks, Melanie, and maybe just pick up on the, well, you’ve covered a lot there, but maybe to pick up a few of those points I’ll turn to Danny, Taryn, to talk a little bit about gender here and gender identity. And, you know, Taryn, you’re working in this area as a matter of policy and this is obviously something that transcends your work. And I guess I’m kind of interested in hearing from you a bit about the sort of gender identity aspects of your work and issues around, you know, how we could be supportive of our colleagues in the transgender and non-binary community in terms of use of pronouns and questions of identity. So I’ll just ask you a little bit to share your experience and your reflections.

Taryn (Danny) Husband: Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for the invitation. I think these are really important issues that people have a lot of questions about. We can get … the Pride Network gets a large volume of questions every day, and I get a lot of questions personally as well. And I think it is really important, especially as we try to implement a feminist policy, to talk about gender in a more kind of holistic and inclusive manner. And so gender identity is really someone’s internal sense of themself as a man or a woman or both or neither. The vast majority of people have a gender identity. There are folks who do identify as a gender or who don’t feel a strong connection to gender identity. But for the most part, you have a gender identity, even if it’s something that you’re not conscious of on a daily basis. I think there’s … I mean, to recommend a book, there’s a really good bit at the beginning of the book Angry White Men about the author’s real, kind of conscious … coming into consciousness of himself as a man and how that affected the way that he saw the world. And that gender identity can then be different or it can be the same as your sex assigned at birth, which is when the doctor goes at some point, most often now, kind of, at your 20-week ultrasound, you know, it’s a boy or it’s a girl. And that’s based on some visible factors that may or may not be as clear cut as we think they are.

And then that, again, is separate right from your gender expression, which is how you present yourself to the world. The clothes that you wear, whether or not you wear makeup, how you do your hair, what pronouns you use, what name you use. And that bit of gender expression of what we consider to be a masculine or feminine way of expressing yourself is so culturally specific, right? What it means to be a man or a woman is different in different parts of the world, and all of these categories are now protected categories under the Canadian charter. I think it’s also … it’s important to note that having a gender expression outside of what we consider to be the norm doesn’t necessarily mean that somebody is transgender or that they’re gay. And often when someone’s gender expression is, I like to say unexpected, we consider it to be something that’s inappropriate or unprofessional in the workplace. But I’d really like to invite people to consider why we might think that, and what directions we might think it in, right? Because we see it’s perfectly acceptable for people who are perceived to be women to wear masculine clothing. And a lot of the neutral clothing that we that we see is more masculine clothing. But when we see people who we would perceive to be men wearing what we perceive to be feminine clothing, we see that as deviant or inappropriate, and I think a big part of making our workplace more accepting and inclusive is unlearning these unconscious biases.

We see all kinds of gender expression and conceptions of masculinity and femininity as we engage with our international colleagues. So why not extend that to our own workplace? And that is one of the most common questions I get, is about how can we make our workplace more inclusive for trans and gender- diverse and non-binary folks, and particularly about pronouns. You’ll often hear people talk about preferred pronouns. And there’s some pushback in the trans community about using the term “preferred” because really using somebody’s correct name and pronouns is … it’s the respect thing. But I think it’s also worth highlighting, especially in our context, that people might have different preferences and needs for the pronouns that they use in different contexts. For example, people might be out in the community, but they’re not out at work, for a number of reasons. I know folks who are waiting to come out because they want to have that one dream posting where they wouldn’t be safe [at the moment]. Or, I chose to come out later and to start my physical transition later than I would have otherwise because I didn’t want to have to travel with testosterone because it’s a controlled substance. And so that’s some things that will come up for our colleagues as they travel and for especially our colleagues in consular as they interact with Canadians living abroad.

I think it’s also really important to highlight that some people use different pronouns in English than they do in French because English is much more set up for unregimented change, right? In French … French has rules and a body that oversees those rules, where English is largely a free-for-all. And so I know a lot of folks who use neutral pronouns like they/them in English, but use binary pronouns like ils and elles in French. And so I think people do have preferences around their pronouns, and that’s important to talk about as well. Some of the ways that … right, like, pronouns aren’t just for trans people. I think having your pronouns front and centre in your email signature or when you introduce yourself, it can help us start conversations about workplace inclusion or it normalizes the practice, which makes it much less risky for trans people and non-binary people to do it, because it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re outing yourself as trans. If all of your cisgender, your non-transgender colleagues are doing it, then it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re trans. It also … it indicates that you are an ally and helps build a positive and inclusive work environment. And it’s a really good way to find out how people would like to be addressed without asking or making assumptions or making mistakes, r just having all of this this confusion.

I mean, I will admit that I wasn’t … when I started thinking about working at GAC, I was nervous about what the work environment would be like. Because there aren’t a lot of out trans employees at GAC, and at the time I didn’t know any. And one of the things that made me feel really comfortable about the possibility of working here was that in my interview, the manager that was interviewing me asked for my pronouns. And it really … it made me feel like my management was conscious of the issues and was thinking about how to make me feel comfortable in my work environment. And that’s where … it’s really all about comfort and belonging. And so I think it’s really important that people be given the opportunity to add their pronouns to their email signatures and include them in introductions, but it shouldn’t be mandatory. It should be something that people … that we create a culture where people feel like they can, but that they don’t feel like they have to. And I think that’s where policies … having policies and information in place is really important. People in government and people at GAC are really risk averse, and I hear a lot of people talk about how they would rather say nothing than risk being wrong and making a mistake. But everybody makes mistakes and we need to build the capacity in our department to make our workplace more inclusive and to have these conversations about diversity and inclusion and equity, especially from an intersectionality perspective. Because people bring their contexts to work, and those people are uniquely positioned to contribute both to conversations about equality, but also just about our work. And that’s where I think having policies and clarity helps people feel more comfortable and having spaces. And that’s why the Pride Network runs positive-space workshops, both … like, really short sessions for teams focused on really basic workplace inclusion, strategies and tools, but also longer ones focused on support and advocacy and really providing opportunities for discussion.

And, yeah, I think that’s all for me for now. Thank you.

Marta Morgan: Thanks, Taryn. That was really interesting and, I think, really informative. I think that’s why these kinds of conversations are so great because, you know, you’ve clearly thought really deeply about these issues—not just from a professional, but from a personal perspective. And it’s great for us to be able to benefit from that wisdom that you bring to bear. So, thanks a lot.

I have a question for Kevin. Kevin, you are working in emergency operations. You have a liaison role between the Pride and the Visible Minorities Networks. You know, I’m really interested in your views on what benefits you’re seeing from the efforts that are being put into inclusion and diversity in the department, both from a visible minority and an LGBTQ2+ perspective.

Kevin Lunianga: Yes—and thank you so much for having me. I’m really, really excited to have this conversation. I think, as folks have pointed out, it’s very timely and critical. So, I think I’m going to start off this conversation with an anecdote, or a story. So, I do work in emergency operations and most of my time in government has been working in client-facing types of positions. And so, I had interacted with a colleague of mine who had just served a Canadian citizen who happened to be also a member of the LGBTQ2+ community. And so we had served him, helped him out. And this colleague of mine, kind of, took me aside and said: you know, I don’t have a problem with queer or trans people, but—I just—I don’t really feel great about when queer and trans people are parents or when they have children. And I think my colleague didn’t really recognize or see that I was part of the LGBTQ2+ community. But that comment itself, I think, stuck with me. And it stuck with me because I think, first and foremost, it was a bit hurtful. It kind of took me by surprise because I felt like questions or comments on parenting—queer parenting—aren’t really related to work; but not really, professionally, sort of linked. And so I was a bit thrown off. But I think more importantly, it created a thought process where I thought to myself: do I respond on the spot? do I speak to this person? do we have a relationship that warrants a discussion? do I keep it to myself? how do I move forward?

And for me, it’s especially important to think a bit about identity and how it’s interlinked; and I think Taryn spoke about an important concept, which is intersectionality. And so I’m someone who’s also Black and African. And so, when I talk about or think about, LGBTQ2+ issues or my experience, I have to intertwine it with my experience as a person of colour, as a person who is Black. And I think that kind of gives me a very specific and unique insight on how to move forward and how to think about diversity and inclusion, because I can’t really think about, or talk about, one issue over the other. They’re always sort of a common package. And that term, “intersectionality”, I think, is really critical as we move forward in this discussion.

And so, you know, having that comment, sort of, come my way—and I think this happens to a lot of queer, trans and minority folk overall: having comments of the sort where you have to, sort of, think, be strategic, take it in, figure out how you’re going to move forward. I think that really pushes a sense of self-awareness and a sense of self-consciousness where you enter a room, you enter a space, and you think: how am I supposed to move forward? how am I supposed to answer? how am I supposed to take up space and what does that look like?

But I think, I—this is important in the context of diversity and inclusion because when we have folks who have multiple identities; when we have folks who are LGBTQ2+, are racialized, who are differently abled-bodied, I think what happens is we’re able to create connections and links with the department’s mandates in the terms of diversity. So, we know that international trade, international development, promoting foreign affairs and promoting Canada’s interests abroad are priorities of the department. And we have, I think, folks with intersectional and diverse identities. And when we have inclusion of LGBTQ2+ folk in the department, we’re able to create these connections that I think hit profound levels. And I think Stewart had a great example, right, as chief of protocol. How do these networks of LGBTQ2+ diplomats—and being able to really connect on that level and push, I think, an agenda of diversity, of inclusion and of bettering, sort of—how we think about diversity overall?

Now, I think in thinking about this conversation and—sort of—and thinking about how I wanted to answer your question, I was a bit, sort of, torn because I thought to myself: there are different folks who need to hear this conversation and different types of people who are listening. Right? And so, I kind of noted what: it is down to 3 groups of individuals. And I thought to myself, what is the best common message that I can give these three groups? So, group number 1 was queer and trans folks like myself. And so, I thought to myself: what can I say to folks who live that experience? what piece of advice can I give them—for the people who identify with me and have that lived experience? The second group is actually yourselves, deputies, which is people who might not identify as being part of the LGBTQ2+ community, but of vested interest in learning more and being allies and having these conversations. And I said: can I give a message that will hit group 1 and group 2 at the same time? But then there was group 3 that came about, which is individuals who maybe aren’t very fond of LGBTQ2+ issues and aren’t really interested or maybe haven’t had the connection, or capacity, or really the interest, to engage with LGBTQ2+ issues.

And in thinking about what diversity and inclusion looks like for all these 3 groups, my main message and my main takeaway would have to be this process of learning and unlearning. And I’m very happy to hear that the chairman spoke about learning and unlearning. And I think it’s important in sort of creating an atmosphere in the department that values diversity and inclusion because when we, I think, look at unlearning for other queer and trans people, it’s crucial in that we’ve been taught in many cases and many contexts to be ashamed of our roots; to be ashamed of sort of where we come from; to be ashamed of how we are intrinsically. But that’s sort of the messaging that we’ve gotten from society. And so as queer and trans people, I think there’s a process of unlearning that needs to be continuous and a process of re-learning to love ourselves. I think for people who are allies like ourselves, deputies, I think the question becomes: what does your ally-ship look like? Are we simply sort of looking and sticking “stay positive” space stickers on our offices; or are we really having discussions like these where we’re talking about intersectionality—what we’re talking about—the betterment of LGBTQ2+ folks and advances and how to make the department better? Like you, you pointed out Deputy Minister Hannaford.

And I think for the third group, which is the most important one, I want to link it back to my story at the beginning. The comment that was made about queer parenting. Right? I think for folks who might not have as much experience with LGBTQ2+ and/or trans issues and questions, something that’s crucial is this process of asking questions. And that is what makes a good parent in this context. And I think we can agree that there are certain traits that come up: being responsible, being caring, being dependable and being a good and active listener for your child. And so with these traits, maybe ask ourselves a question—would be—is sexuality and/or gender identity linked to any of these pieces? And just having that inner dialog with ourselves and asking: where is the link? is there a link? where do my thoughts come from? where have I learned these messages? So, I think that process of learning and unlearning is truly key towards building, I think, an environment that is—that is inclusive and that is diverse of LGBTQ2+ and, evidently, of other folk who are of minority status.

John Hannaford: Those are super insightful comments from all of you. I really want to thank you very, very much for sharing your wisdom, as Marta said at the beginning. Because I think, as you say, these are critically important conversations for us as a department and as a professional community. And I guess I wanted to kind of build off of one of your points, Kevin—which your anecdote is, I think, important in a number of levels. But one of the things I think it highlights is something that I’ve thought about as we’ve been talking about inclusion, where from the perspective of race—because the issue of “microaggression” has come up frequently in the conversations that we’ve had—and I think actually the conversation you have maybe beyond microaggression—but what it highlights is the interpersonal aspects of inclusion that it’s, you know, it’s critically important that we have policies, and it’s critically important that we have mechanisms. But it’s also critically important that we, kind of, remind all of us of our values and the, kind of, underpinnings of our interpersonal relationships—and that value of inclusion is, kind of, central to what we should be aspiring to, what we should be achieving. And I think I was, kind of, just interested in your reflections on that issue, because it’s an intersectional issue in a way around microaggression that I think goes beyond that. I think that this is—it truly is a cultural aspect of the kind of journey that we’re on together. And I would just be interested in any thoughts you might have further to that—any of you.

Stewart Wheeler: I would let the others go first; I think Kevin brings an amazing lens to that. I think Danny’s work on positive space and creating spaces in our workplaces where it’s okay to ask the awkward question; it’s okay to have the conversations. We would rather, as a community, that we have those conversations so that people don’t feel awkward all the time if they stumble into something or try to avoid certain topics or certain—but that all goes to management and leaders in the organization creating those spaces and valuing that education and being humble enough to admit that they don’t know, and bringing in other people to have those conversations. But maybe I’ll leave it to others to say more.

Taryn (Danny) Husband: I mean, I’m happy to jump in here. I think it’s really great to bring in, sort of, the concept of microaggression because often microaggressions are things that people don’t mean to cause harm, but the harm is there, right? It happens and it’s real—and it’s a lot of that stuff that makes people afraid to bring their whole selves to work, and it affects the way that we do our work. I think for me, a real good example of this is that—while this issue will be addressed in the renovations, it’s a long-term plan. Right, that GAC doesn’t actually have any gender-neutral washrooms. There’s no safe washrooms for me where I can be guaranteed that I won’t face either microaggressions or macroaggressions. Like, I’m always concerned in the office when I use the washroom, if somebody is going to make a comment or ask a question. And also, one of the reasons why I don’t use the men’s washroom a lot is that that’s not where I want to have that conversation with people. I don’t want to have a conversation about my gender in the washroom and that’s where—if I’m always worried about that, then I’m worried about how I present myself at work, and so, I’m worried about censoring myself. And so I'm not bringing my whole self to work. And that happens with folks who are in nontraditional relationships as well—all kinds of nontraditional relationships where people say: oh, well, you never talk about your family; I’m like, yeah: because talking about my family might lead to questions or to comments that I’m not necessarily willing to answer in the workplace.

So, yeah, I think it’s—yeah, as Stewart said, I think it’s really important to provide, sort of, environments for people to ask their questions, even so that we can, kind of, create spaces where that’s appropriate, so that then we can create spaces where that’s not appropriate as well.

John Hannaford: Thanks very much. That’s very clear, and I think that does add to the conversation generally. Well, look, you know, I’m sorry that—somebody want to—that’s something; I heard an inhale.

Stewart Wheeler: That was me, John. Thank you. Just let me jump on what Danny was just saying. I think many people in our community are really excited about the fact that Canada is being so proactive these days on LGBTQ2+ rights as human rights around the world—and the work that we’re doing with civil society and with diplomats for equality, all sorts of things that we’re doing in different ways. You know, I think many of us have been saying for years that: wouldn’t it be great if Canada not only recognized me, but also went out to protect people like me who are under real threats in many parts of the world? So that’s, you know, really empowering and great development to see; but I think it’s really important. And, this is where that question of learning and unlearning and of mainstreaming ideas.

You know, people talk a lot in our department now about GBA+ [gender-based analysis plus] analysis and bringing that lens—the intersectional lens—and bringing, you know, the GBA+ lens to our policy work, for example; or how we’re going to implement something. And—don’t get me wrong—the Pride Network is very pleased that the department and HR are often consulting us to make sure that as they’re moving things through and rolling stuff out, that they know that things haven’t been forgotten, and that people, things, are being presented in a way that the community won’t feel that it’s kind of awkward. But at the same time, there also seems to be this kind of sense that LGBTQ2+ people should be the people that answer the questions about GBA+ analysis, about those policy questions. And it’s kind of like saying: well, our answer to the raising of awareness this year on the real scourge of discrimination and racism is not to say that only visible minority people are the ones who should be educating the rest of us about being anti-racist. We all own a little part of that. And we all need to think about: what are the things I need to learn and unlearn? And so, that kind of mainstreaming of some of those things is also kind of, I think that—the way forward or the next steps in some of that policy thinking.

John Hannaford: I agree completely. Marta, your thoughts as we end this conversation?

Marta Morgan: Yeah, I just want to thank you all. I think this has been—for me, it’s been very insightful. And one of the things that I was thinking as I was listening to both Taryn and Kevin—and you speak there at the end, Stewart—was just how appreciative I am of all of you because clearly all of you: Melanie, Stewart, Taryn and Kevin; you all are putting your own personal effort above and beyond, really, your workplace duties and responsibilities to help change our culture. And that effort manifests itself in time; and it manifests itself in intellectual and thought leadership; and it manifests itself, as well, in emotional energy. And it’s making a difference; it’s the only thing that really makes a difference. And we have to get ourselves to the place where we do all this. But really, it’s people like you who’ve been trailblazers and who’ve helped us get to where we are. And I really appreciate the fact that you’re, you know, continuing to push us to make more progress. And the effort that you personally—and all of your colleagues who are involved in the various networks—are putting into this.

John Hannaford: I don’t think I could say that better, so I will just simply sign off; I think that was a terrific conversation. I couldn’t be more grateful to all of you for sharing with us your insights today. So, thank you very, very much, and all best wishes.

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