Elise Barber is a valued training co-host who has worked with Elevate Inclusion Strategies for three years.
She is also a social worker and counsellor and brings many years of experience in community development facilitation and leadership to her work. Elise recently shared with us how participating in Elevate training events has influenced other aspects of her life.
What books and films are captivating Elise’s attention these days? Read on to find out!
Finding the balanced space where non-judgment, humility, compassion, boundaries, and accountability can all be alive in the room is a unique facilitation challenge that keeps me energized and on my toes!
What draws you to Justice, Equity, Diversity, Decolonization and Inclusion (JEDDI) work both personally and professionally?
EB: I am drawn to this work because I love people and am motivated by justice-based change. I find group learning spaces to be rich in potential for collective capacity and knowledge building. JEDDI work is lifelong, and it’s a great privilege to hold space for people as they sort through their own (un)learning journeys.
I also learn from the richness of these vibrant and dynamic learning environments, which is a real bonus. I find it exciting and challenging to discuss concepts like microaggressions, intersectionality and unconscious bias while building an accessible space for dialogue. Finding the balanced space where non-judgment, humility, compassion, boundaries, and accountability can all be alive in the room is a unique facilitation challenge that keeps me energized and on my toes!
What have you learned about hosting conversations on JEDDI?
EB: There has been so much learning for me as a person and as a professional. Many organizations have a desire to align their actions with their values, and the journey to get there — with everyone on board – involves deep work by all. Engaging with workplaces requires not only looking at power in the abstract but really wrestling with how it impacts each person on a day-to-day basis.
It’s been fascinating to see the common threads of resistance, reluctance and resilience that show up in our conversations around JEDDI initiatives. I’ve learned the importance of building trust and uncovering barriers that prevent people from speaking honestly to each other as colleagues. Natasha has understood and demonstrated the value of dedicated Black, Indigenous, and People Of Colour spaces (BIPOC) for unique conversations that can be held within those groups. I have also witnessed the important learning and accountability conversations that white folks need to have with one another.
What are you reading, watching or listening to that inspires and deepens your inclusive practice?
EB: I’ve finally started into Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass which is a gorgeous read of poetry and science woven together through Indigenous wisdom. I’ve also enjoyed reading some books by queer BIPOC authors like George M Johnson and Samra Habib, which stitch together cultural worlds and identities in illuminating, generous and affirming ways. I also really enjoyed the book Valley of the Birdtail, and the film For Love (on Netflix), to explore the historical and ongoing impacts of Residential Schools on Indigenous and settler communities.
Is there anything else you would like to reflect on about your work with Elevate Inclusion Strategies?
EB: I love working with Elevate! Even after day-long sessions that start in the wee hours of the morning, I leave feeling energized and engaged. It’s a great privilege to be a part of Natasha’s team and to connect with workers and leaders across disciplines and industries who are invested in this critical personal, professional, and systems change work.
You can find Elise’s recommendations and many other empowering resources on Elevate’s Inspirations page.