Chela Breckon: Pembroke
Symbols of a welcoming and safe community are essential to moving Pembroke forward. I actively support the creation and display of these symbols in my daily life as a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and supporter of diversity broadly. I have sponsored through my corporation a stripe on the sidewalk every year and I have added support both financially and in my time and effort to Pride activities. I also ensure my space at the firm’s HQ downtown is inclusive and welcoming to all. We display the pride signage year-round and we have invested in developing our space with key moments of inclusion - gender neutral washrooms and inclusion training for all of our staff, as examples. As a councillor, my values and commitment to this will not change. In fact, I will be able to contribute to helping advance the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan that will be prepared in time for this upcoming term. Our firm, With Chela Inc., has the great honour of building this plan working with community and we must take action on its recommendations.
Firstly, I’d like to say that the way you’ve worded this question is exactly how I feel about this issue. Dangerous. We cannot allow our position of public office to be the place to spread misinformation and harmful remarks about a community we do not identify with, have not been educated in, or have not taken the time to speak with. I will take a firm stance at the Council table to call anyone to account on their hurtful remarks should this occur. We need to stand up and be OK with having difficult conversations with our colleagues and calling them to account. We can no longer accept Council members showing up to meetings with no education on the issues nor sense of lived experiences and use that platform to ask the questions they should have asked of themselves prior to coming to the meeting. It is no longer acceptable in any position of leadership to be ignorant to this. It’s harmful and our people deserve better. We have to put it all on the line for folks who feel unsafe. It’s just common sense - we’d do this exact thing to protect our children and people in any other issue of physical safety. Why is this one, which compromises physical, psychological, and emotional safety, being allowed to continue? Not OK.
I am also committed to spreading this culture of accountability in the community and the media. Our local media is actively contributing to this problem and is not even balancing the conversation or commentary, let alone standing firmly to reject stories that cause harm. We can also do better on social media to protect our platforms from being a source of misinformation and hatred.
I am of a passionate heart and firm mind on this issue overall. This narrative HAS to change. I am deeply committed and know how we can. It means listening. Learning. Taking stories of harm and oppression at face value that we cannot live. And we need to put a plug in anything that challenges the truth of what people are actually experiencing here.
My commitment to this has been in place for much longer than this campaign. And I am not interested in backing off, rather ramping up. I will commit to developing trusting relationships with my community and build an understanding, as far as my human limitations can, to the issues of importance and why. I will always take a seat of learning and listening to such key human realities. I will also commit to being a formidable advocate for these issues and help to advance equity and belonging through all of my leadership and community roles - and living my identity.
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