Before emigrating to Canada at 26, I lived in Guyana, the United States, Trinidad, and Jamaica, where I was born. Migration to Toronto in 1993 was initially fairly painless given that moving countries was a regular feature of my life from as early as I can remember.
My work history spans an eclectic mix of mostly small for- and non-profit organizations. My most fulfilling work was as a personal care aide for people with disabilities and HIV, a job I took for two months as part of a successful strategy to secure an entry-level position in an AIDS service organization.
In 1996 I job-shared that position and started full-time law school at the University of Toronto. Law and its role in articulating privilege are enduring interests of mine, however based on mental health considerations I was reluctant to practise. In my second year of school, when the conservative Ontario government deregulated tuition resulting in a four-fold increase, I decided to leave law school. In 1998 I became the executive director of a small but vital community organization in crisis. It was the first of three charities that I led between 1998 and 2009. Between 1996 and 2007, alongside employment, I freelanced as an LGBT community presenter and workshop facilitator for the Toronto Police and Ontario Police Colleges, and eventually as an associate consultant in non-profit strategic planning and program evaluation.
After four years running organizations for others I wanted to try running my own business. Gardening and flowers have been strong interests since childhood thanks to an aunt who was a florist. I studied horticulture in university and in 2002, with minimal capital, I successfully founded Blooming City, a small, initially part-time business that over eight years gradually evolved from a focus on floral design to exclusively providing bespoke gardening services. Between 2002 and 2009 I grew Blooming City while also freelancing and taking interim executive director contracts in the winter months. This worked well because I thrive when I have multiple, concurrent work opportunities catering to a variety of interests.
Back in 1986, at the start of my second semester of my Bachelor of Science at Cornell University, I had a brief, acute psychotic episode that resulted in a 20-month leave of absence and a series of psychiatric diagnoses. The subsequent three decades coping with a serious psychiatric condition, and my experiences of psychiatric care, led me to become involved in service user education. I am a founding member of a community of practice for mental health service users involved in the education of service providers that started in 2017. Based on this involvement I founded Hope is Health in 2019. Although suspended for the moment because of COVID, Hope is Health develops, promotes and delivers training for health service providers, facilitated by mental health service users.
Currently, I volunteer as the Empowerment Council representative on the Integrated Care Steering Committee at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Many years ago I worked at an organization that valued personality testing as part of team building. I find personality tests interesting and useful, some much more than others. I’ve had two formally administered Myers Briggs tests and test out as INFP but I identify as borderline introvert/extrovert and also borderline feeling/thinking. I was formally tested by Kolbe, and am a Pioneer. I don’t remember my “true colours” but never found that particularly helpful though I can see its value in teams. My Strengths Finder strengths are Ideation, Strategic, Input, Activator and Arranger. By far the personality system that has been most useful to me has been the Enneagram. I am a rather atypical four with a three-wing.
I think if you asked most people who know me what the most memorable thing about me is, they would say my laugh.