In all these unsettling events, I have unearthed 3 gifts our times are providing me.

I’ll share them with you and would love to know your thoughts and what new gifts or opportunities have emerged for you during these times of such immense change and transition.

Gift #1: Belonging DOES Matter

COVID-19 has forced us into collective isolation and we are seeing the impact on:

  • Seniors who are not only dying from COVID-19, but whose health is deteriorating from loneliness, which, in some cases, is leading to premature deaths.  
  • Some people who use substances or who are in recovery are struggling with social isolation during COVID-19 'stay at home' orders, leading to a significant spike in overdose deaths, far exceeding the death rate from COVID-19.  
  • Children and youth struggling with mental health issues leading to a huge spike in use of Kids Help Line.         

We are social animals and hard-wired to connect. Building a culture of belonging is not just about holding hands and singing kumbaya. Belonging matters because it addresses a fundamental human need. When our needs for belonging are not met, it can literally lead to death.

Thankfully, with every new report and statistic, you will also find incredible innovation to address the problem. I think you’ll agree this Indigenous-led initiative is both innovative and inspiring. It provides spaces in parks for kids to connect to nature and with each other, safely:

Gift #2: The world as a mirror

Like many around the world, I have been both horrified by the myriad of videos circulating showing live police brutality against Black Americans. When I see the continued state-endorsed violence to address BLM protests, I ask myself, “What seeds of this problem exist in Canada?”

We don’t have to look far to see police brutality and systemic racism at work in Canada. Here are just a few examples:

Once I recognize what the world is reflecting back to me, I then decide what I am going to do about it… If you are curious, check out gift #3 below.

Gift #3: Getting crystal clear about values

When the going gets tough, I always come back to my values and relationships.

Whenever I feel indignant or outraged, I use those emotions as a compass, showing me what values have been eroded in my community and world and hence what values I stand for. Those turbulent emotions and be a positive when I use them to guide, strengthen and recommit where I put my efforts through my moment-by-moment choices.

Below is an example of a value that has become crystal clear.

I believe those most impacted by any social problems are the experts.

Recognizing their strengths, this means, I will support the voice, dignity, and leadership of those most impacted by racism in Canada.

As a result, I am…

  • Putting together a series about addressing racism that showcases diverse experiences from people with direct and lived experience.
  • Ensuring Indigenous and newcomer voices and leadership are supported in all my current projects.
  • Sharing a series of social media posts about all the Indigenous leaders, scholars, and activists that have influenced my thinking.

Share Your Comments Below: 

I’d love to hear from you and learn:

  • How have you noticed Belonging Matters in your life and our world?
  • What in the news gets your goat (makes you feel outraged) and how is your indignation a mirror for what is happening in your own backyard?
  • What values are more important than ever to you? And how will you put these values into action?
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About the Author

Jessie Sutherland

An international speaker, trainer, and consultant, Jessie Sutherland works with organizations and communities to engage diversity, build belonging and ignite intercultural collaboration. Her approach creates sustainable community change that effectively addresses a wide range of complex social problems.

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