I am the daughter of immigrants who arrived in Canada from the Caribbean in the 1960s. When my mother and grandmother arrived, they took jobs as live-in domestics - the main job Black women could get at that time. Like many immigrants, my mother worked hard to regain her profession as an elementary teacher and worked for more than 30 years in Toronto schools. My grandmother, who had been a nurse and a midwife, became a nurse’s aide.
My mother loves her adopted home and was determined that her family embrace everything Canada has to offer. Even though she had never seen snow before coming to Canada, and had been taught to stay out of the sea, she insisted we all learn to swim and to skate. And when the government announced it was launching a national French immersion program, my mom enrolled us. I was among the first group of students to graduate from the program in the late 1980s, in our hometown of Toronto.
I was engaged with public policy from an early age. My mom still has a photo of me at 12-years old in my Ontario Legislature Page’s uniform, and I can still remember the rallies, protests and strikes that she took me to. I went on to complete a Masters of Public Affairs at Princeton University, a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Ottawa, and am called to the Bar in Ontario. Over the years, I have been honoured to be selected as an inaugural Action Canada Fellow, an Echoing Green Fellow, as a member of the Recruitment of Policy Leaders Program, member of the University of Ottawa Common Law Honour Society and as a recipient of the Harry Jerome Award.
A large part of my professional life has been focused in international affairs. I have worked abroad as a Director for a leading conflict prevention NGO in Brussels, as an Advisor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and as a Political Officer in Canada’s Mission to the European Union. I co-founded and co-directed BIPP HUB in Barcelona: an innovation hub for international NGOs working on global challenges. I have also served on the Board and advised a number of international NGOs, including the Climate Infrastructure Partnership (CLIP), Higher Education Alliance for Refugees (HEAR) and Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT).
Until recently, my professional work largely prevented me from participating in partisan politics. Nevertheless, promoting diversity in Canadian politics is a long-standing commitment of mine and I have always found ways to advocate. After graduate school, I founded and directed the Canadian Centre for Political Leadership (CCPL) from 2001-2005: a non-partisan charity that trained women and under-represented minorities to run for elected office. I am proud that CCPL trainees are now serving their communities in elected roles. I have volunteered with Operation Black Vote Canada (OBVC), and served on the Steering Committee for Equal Voice Canada, two non-partisan organisations working to diversify our political representation. I have also published articles and policy papers on social inclusion and representation in Canadian politics.
In the 2019 federal election, I represented the Green Party of Canada as its candidate in Toronto Centre. I ran against the sitting Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, and challenged the Liberal record of building pipelines while neglecting our local communities. We had the second-best Green result in the Greater Toronto Area, nearly tripling the Green vote in our riding. I was really proud of the ways in which my campaign team was also able to support other Green candidates and ridings throughout the city.
Until recently, I served as International Affairs Critic in the Green Party of Canada’s Shadow Cabinet, providing advice to our Interim Leader on international issues and helping to guide the development of our foreign policy positions. I speak English, French, Catalan and Spanish.
I have been married for almost 24 years. My partner is an international human rights lawyer who specializes in peace negotiations and reconciliation. We have two teenage children that I alternately refer to as “your children” or “my children” depending on my mood.