The Challenge of Inclusion

Participants at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Future Forums in Calgary tackled the consultation’s two tough issues head-on.

Inclusive Excellence and Engaged Leadership were discussed in order to gather insights and opinions on how the Foundation can help foster better inclusiveness through leadership in Canada.

Foundation President and CEO, Pascale Fournier, set the stage for the discussion by getting straight to the point when it comes to the idea of Inclusive Excellence:

“Why is it that some people are never at the table? And what can we do to get them to come to the table?” Fournier asked the participants.

There was general agreement that the issue is multi-faceted and there are no easy answers. Another consensus in the room at the Calgary Municipal Complex was that actions can be taken to bring positive change, and the conversation brought forward in the Future Forums is a good start.

Lorelei Higgins is the Indigenous Relations Strategist with the City of Calgary. She says the goal of inclusiveness requires people from different backgrounds and cultures finding new common ground.

Higgins also pointed out systemic, institutional hierarchy can alienate people who don’t feel as though their views are valued.

“As long as we keep thinking of leadership by titles or by degrees, we are going to leave people out,” she said.

The Future Forums consultation in Calgary was hosted by Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who participated throughout the discussion period.

“Being a leader in a place of great diversity is at top of mind for me,” Mayor Nenshi said during closing remarks.

He spoke hopefully about opportunities to be part of the community and the decision-making process. Mayor Nenshi described one specific way he believes people can get involved right away: by taking up volunteering at least three times per year.

Inclusiveness is important, he said, “in order to ensure every person in this land has the opportunity to live this great Canadian life.”