Olivia Nuamah: Credit Samuel Engleking
Asian Women: Wkipedia
As we all know that the Pride speaks about 'inclusivity' and yet the Uniformed Toronto Police did not take part in this year's Pride. Why did that fall out take place and what are you, as the boss, doing in order to get them to join the parade in 2018?
Police in Uniform PrideToronto
There are lots going on. We are hoping we will solve it. Both the police and we are willing to come to a solution for next year and hope that this does not exist next year, The people who said ‘No’ to this we will hear their demands and find a way through. We will spend one year to solve this problem talking to police and people.
In one of the past interviews with Pride, you have stated that your focus is on community development. Tell us how do you plan to accomplish that?
I have not been here that long but I have certainly managed to get people to care about the organization by making sure we are representing what they think and feel and may be in the past people felt Pride Toronto did not represent what they think. Police are a good example. Number of people outside the organization think that the police should not be involved. May be this organization in the past would not have listened to this. Because police being involved is important in organization functions and important in festival functions. People overtime have been saying they do not think police should be involved. There are a number of people in the communities who feel we have grown closer to them in doing what they want us to do. People both inside and outside the community are not comfortable with police being involved in the Toronto Pride Parade.
Is there one need surrounding the community that you would like to share or do you have any difficulty or challenge to come out?
The difficulty is not in coming out, the difficulty is getting the people actually to believe that you are not straight. Because they have an idea in mind what somebody gay looks like and sounds like. Even if I tell them I am gay they do not treat me or associate me being gay. That is not hard with me. But for people who think they are gay, they have a problem.
Coming back to Pride, you share a healthy relationship with Chief Saunders, while the same cannot be said about the respective organisations you two work for. Is this a case of a conflict between personal and professional interests? If yes, what's the way forward?
With Chief Saunders, the relationship is not bad. We seem to be moving forward. But inside our community some are supportive and some are less supportive and everybody in between. This year what we are trying to do is get people to talk to each other more and try to agree together what we should do next. It would be hard for sure but we are determined that what ever we agree we will agree together and those who do not agree will live with it and that is what democracy is. So we will do it using democratic principles.
Mark Saunders: Twitter
As a boss of pride What's your goal for Pride in upcoming years?
The most important thing is to put on good festivals. That is the priority for us.
Second thing is to bring the communities together more harmoniously. This has been a difficult year and a half. There have been very difficult conversations. Instead of being angry we have to listen to their complains and give consensus and compromise. That is what we are trying to do.
In the past 2 years the prime minister of Canada has been participating along with other politicians more in the Pride Toronto events. What do you think his motive behind it? Any political motive or just love to participate?
Justin Trudeau: Facebook
Participation never hurts any body. The Pride Toronto has a big following. People see him marching. They feel happy when a politician says that we embrace you and he does that. He seems a genuine fellow. He is always embracing and very kind. We also appreciate the element that members of community are not asking why he did not come to the parade.
You have worked with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in his eradication of child poverty programme. Do you think that experience is helping you now in doing what you are doing/planning to do?
Absolutely. I learnt everything I know from that labour government which was in place for 7 years. Working with poor communities is something I learnt under Tony Blair and I bring that into every job I have and all of the skills it takes to talk to people who are poor and disabled and to understand what they want. I learnt all these in U.K. and I secure that experience.
We have done a story on Toronto based Michael Garron Hospital in which the hospital had put an end to referring to patients as ‘him’ or ‘her’ on the basis of their sexual orientation. Instead of referring to the signs in the washrooms as "male" or "female", the picture of "toilet" or "sink" are put outside the washroom. How big a step do you think this is?
It is a huge step. The language around gender is as almost as toxic as language about racism. Sometimes we have to learn to speak differently. There was a time that language of being black that was accepted 30-40 years ago but not accepted now. Now it turns out language around gender was accepted yesterday but not acceptable today. It is a huge step when you see society deciding what it wants. The people should feel safe and acceptable. So use of ‘they’ than use of word ‘she’ or’ he’ or addressing persons by their name rather than by their gender. More people are feeling confident in saying they were born a certain gender but they do not feel that gender. The gender they feel is what ever it is and even if it is a non-gender they will like to be addressed a different way. It is same way we address disabled people. People find sexuality thing hard. People should change their mind set in addressing the people.
Michael Garron Hospital: Facebook
Do you think that the liberal government that is in power at the federal and provincial level is more helpful for the community to grow compared to the conservative government?
This community owes a gratitude to liberal govt who has introduced Bill C-16 amongst many others. They have been openly embracing of us as a community. They have been very open and I am grateful. On the other hand, we have Conservative government who finds it hard to go to pride events and regularly advocates for the policies that continues to see same sex couple differently and constituted families as a threat. This party we want to be partnership with but we find it hard to engage with because we want cross-party support not only for the festivals but also for the community.
You have been quoted as saying by The Globe and Mail "I want to be taken as seriously as a white man in a leadership role"(https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/pride-torontos-new-boss-olivia-nuamah-actively-wears-her-race/article34639604/). Why do you think in a developed country such as Canada do you need to fight such prejudice in this day and age?
I have been in number of leadership roles. And for sure it feels harder to be taken seriously for a lot of reasons. When I said that what I was trying to say was that sometimes people do not think that I am supposed to be a leader in a big organization because they look at me and think and I do not fit what a leader looks like in an organization and they treat me that way. When I said that what I was really was saying that I was hoping to live my life in a world at some point where I am treated the same as a white man leading in an organization. At the moment that is not the case.
I am going to ask about your personal life. I you like you may answer and if you do not like you may not. I leave it to your discretion. Can you tell us a little about your personal life?
My story is one that I think that a lot of women feel but do not say it loud and only express internally, I was very happily married for 20 years had a loving husband and had two beautiful children in London. When I came out of the marriage five years ago, it was difficult for my family and difficult for me and my children but I felt But I absolutely find that it was being unfair to my children, myself and to him by trying to live a life that I knew that other people wanted me to live but I was not so sure I wanted to live. I had to listen to my heart. That was my life.
(Interview taken by Suman Das and Asha Bajaj)