Awesome Individuals

Christopher Jess – Teacher at CWDHS

Why did you take the pledge?

Schools host our collective, societal hopes for the future. When that hope is shaken, as it has been over these last few years, we need to pledge forward and we’re so fortunate that that message hope and compassion is coming from one of our very own student leaders. Abby Graham has seen the need and emerged to invite us all to reflect on who we are and what we can truly be.

Idea for future action?

COVID has sucked all the air out of the ‘room’ and Abby reminds me that it’s okay, reminds me to take a big deep MASKED breath, and asks me to focus, build hope, build resilience, and build on that routine of living this pledge every day. 

Natasha Skerritt – Principal at Salem Public School

Why did you take the pledge?

I believe that we all have an obligation to do our part to bring smiles to those around us. Kindness can change the world.

What are you doing to make your community more kind and inclusive?

My goal is to inspire others to be confident and to speak up. I want them to know that they can make a difference by being kind and speaking up when they hear unkind words or hurtful language. I have challenged each of the classes in our school to take the Kindness Pledge along with me.

Diane Ballantyne – Ontario NDP candidate

Why did you take the pledge?

“Through my work with Renegade Rainbows, the CW Community Dinner and the “Hate has No Home Here” sign campaign, it is clear that kindness and inclusion matter to this community. The Kindness Pledge helps us to build something even better. Kindness is the gift everyone can afford to give!”

What are your future actions going to be?

Policies matter. My Provincial NDP campaign is centered on supporting the lives of working people so they have freedom from stress, investing in the services they need to live a healthier and happier life. 

Emilie Kirkland

Why did you take the pledge?

I took the kindness pledge because in a time when it may be easy to be negative,  I want to be kind. I want to learn how to be more inclusive and to help spread the message.

How are you going to make your community more kind and inclusive?

I will continue to read about how to be inclusive through the links you provided as well as other sources. I pledge to help create an inclusive community at work and at home.

Alexandra Carere

Why did you take the pledge?

I took the pledge to help my community be more kind and inclusive because I want my son to grow up in a more inclusive and kind world. There is no such thing as too much kindness and inclusivity!

What future actions are you taking?

I am an ally to anyone in need of kindness and understanding. I act as a sort of block parent in my neighbourhood for kids/teenagers to come to when the are in need of help or just want to talk. I also started a “safe sisters/safe brothers” group at our local YMCA/YWCA of Guelph that is still running. 
It teaches our future generations about online safety, being inclusive, anti-bullying, and much much more to help them learn to be more aware, understanding, and kind.

Rick Bonnette – Mayor of Halton Hills

Why did you take the pledge?

I took the pledge for a couple of reasons: one, I agree with and support the message and intent of inclusivity and kindness. These are challenging times and increasingly people are facing struggles – some obvious but many more exist behind the curtain of a closed door. If we are more cognizant of the hidden burdens carried by those around us and actively demonstrate kindness both through our words and our actions, I believe we can make a difference. Who knows how the impact of one small act may ripple and positively affect those around us?  We need to foster unity. We need to foster inclusiveness and we need to foster positivity. Together we can build a healthy community.

I also believe that in my fortunate position as Mayor I have a responsibility and the opportunity to lead, advocate and support wonderful initiatives such as the kindness pledge. I entered politics many years ago with the idea of making a difference – taking the kindness pledge is one of the ways I can realize this goal.

What are you doing to make your community more kind and inclusive?

I am challenging other elected officials, community members, friends and family to take the pledge and spread the word. If we all make a deliberate effort to demonstrate kindness and foster an environment of caring, what a healthier and happier world we will have.

Derrick Thomson

Why did you take the kindness pledge?

I wanting to set an example for staff and the community that it is important to be kind and to stand up against hate and act as an ally to marginalized groups

What are some things you are doing to make your community more kind and inclusive?

Minto’s tagline is “Where Your Family Belongs” we want to ensure our community is a welcoming community for everybody and that everyone feels they belong here. Our community began work standing up against hate last summer when one of our Syrian families was targeted by a hateful act. We responded quickly to organize a Solidarity March and with only a few days’ notice witnessed hundreds of people show up to support our Syrian community. On January 29th we changed the lights in Tannery Park to green as part of the green square campaign to remember the victims of the Quebec City Mosque attack and to stand against Islamophobia. Staff participated in training on diversity, equity and inclusion. This February, we have recognized Black Heritage Month by changing the lights in Tannery Park to red, gold and green in recognition of the African Nova Scotian Flag. More work will be done in 2022 as we incorporate Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives into our Cultural Plan. We want to play a key role in educating our community on these topics and raising awareness of the issues while working with our community to overcome the challenges to ensure we truly represent “where all families belong.”

Lynne McIntee – Master of ceremonies, Video podcast host, Educator

Why did you take the pledge?

To acknowledge our contributions and to create space for change while leading by example.

What are you doing to make your community more kind and inclusive?

Call to action would be to lift each other up and shine light on our abilities creating a safe space for all people to feel wholeness in our community, creating unity in community!

Marianne Meed Ward – Mayor of Burlington

Why did you take the pledge?

We have all seen the huge negative impact on mental health caused by the pandemic. Now, more than ever, we need to make that extra bit of effort to be kind and respectful, and mindful of each other – even if we disagree. The Kindness Pledge is one of many actions we can take to show our commitment to being better people to one another.

What are you doing to make your community more kind and inclusive?

Equity, diversity and inclusion are three very important pillars at City Hall and throughout our Burlington community. Over the past few years, we’ve seen global events that reminded us why we need to renew and strengthen our calls to be kind to each other and more inclusive.

In Burlington, we continued our work to expand our rainbow crosswalk initiative to add 3 more locations to our first one installed in our downtown in 2020. As well, Council recently unanimously approved a rainbow banner program for Pride Month in June.

Our City’s art fund supported the Promenade of Pain REDress project to highlight and bring more awareness to the Promenade of Pain REDress project. We lowered our flags at City Hall after discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools across our country and support a Hope for Healing art installation to help express our shared grief. At City Hall, we marked the first Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Sept. 2021 to allow our community to spend time remembering and reflecting.

Burlington City Council recently unanimously signed the Halton Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Charter, committing to understanding diversity through the lens of allyship and embracing inclusion through kindness and acceptance of all residents in Halton and subsequently updated our City’s sponsorship and naming of sites policies to ensure they reflect that commitment.

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