Building inclusion through awareness and advocacy
I’m known for my better together philosophy – building collaborations and partnerships to create social change.
This approach has connected me with many like-minded people, including Julie Kumar, a local advocate for diversity and inclusion.
Kumar moved to Barrie from India to attend Georgian College in 2006, moved to Toronto, and then relocated to work in Simcoe County in 2010.
Here, she experienced much greater community diversity than during her years living in India, despite the country’s many different cultures, languages, and traditions. While diversity exists and is a fact in her community, Kumar continues to find inclusion missing. Building inclusion through awareness and advocacy has become the heart of her community focus.
Kumar is involved in several advocacy groups and initiatives, including the Bradford West Gwillimbury Diversity Action Group and the Ethnic Mosaic Alliance. Working at South Simcoe Police Services, she leads their Diversity, Equity, Inclusion initiatives and sits on the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group for Ontario Chiefs of Police.
Last summer, she helped organize Bradford’s Black Lives Matter peaceful protest. “There's a forum and a place for every voice, and that needs to be recognized. I see myself as an enabler – to make sure that those voices that need to be heard in a certain area are heard. My job within the protest was to ensure that Black voices were heard.”
Kumar says she believes in the importance of speaking up and showing up. “Just a voice without action is not really a true voice,” she stated. She continues advocating, educating, creating awareness around and supporting racialized communities through Barrie’s Anti-racism Advisory Panel and the recently created Rise UP BWG.
“It bothers me greatly to see unfairness or discrimination, or just people being treated differently regardless of what their background is,” Kumar shared. “We, as humans, need to respect one another. Accept others for who they are, exactly as they are and let them be who they are. Why is this so difficult?”
With so much focus on self-love, it’s important to remember that as we ask people to express who they are, we need the community at large to celebrate them as they are.
Like me, Kumar hopes to be part of many of these changes on the journey to community inclusion. She reminded me that, “Even a small ripple of change has an impact.”
Michèle Newton is an experienced diversity and inclusion speaker. Connect with her.