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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

In 2021, EDCO started it's first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. As part of their initiative, the Committee members will release monthly blog posts on different DEI topics. 

Questions or suggestions? Contact the DEI Committee Chair, Nour Mazloum, at

DEI Training Opportunities:

  • 02 Oct 2022 10:11 PM | Stephanie Crilly (Administrator)

    I was fortunate enough to be invited by the Wahnapitae First Nations to attend a Cultural Mindfulness training session lead by George Couchie of the Nipissing First Nations. The lessons and teachings were meaningful, powerful and, for me, sometimes quite shocking. 

    On matters of Indigenous history in Canada, I admit to having been completely ignorant. Ignorance is only a “thing” until one seeks out or is gifted with knowledge. After only a one-day session, I know that I am still ignorant to much of the history and the culture, but I have been gifted with understanding now that I didn’t have before.

    I am not an expert, but this session educated me on some of the violent atrocities that took place across this country, of which I was previous unaware.

    • It is likely that you have heard of the tragedies of the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. I learned on this day that the number of missing and murdered Indigenous men is actually 10 times higher than the number of the women!
    • I learned that the residential schools robbed individuals and their communities of their language, culture and their families. They were given dog tags with numbers and were often referred to only by that number.
    • I learned that statistically a person was more likely to die in a residential school than they were to die while fighting in one of the great wars.
    • I learned about so many streams of systemic, generational racism and the genocide of multiple cultures. 

    This session was emotional and impactful. However, it is not hopeless. As George said, “We cannot change the past, but we can make the future better.”

    George gifted us by starting the day teaching us the Seven Grandfather Teachings. I enjoyed this portion so much, as it is very akin to the life journey that I had started for myself about two decades ago. I am going to make it a point to remind myself of these teachings every day to remember that we all can be a part of the solution. 

    As this was the first time I learned these teachings, I know that with time I will develop an even deeper understanding. Here is what I learned and what I wanted to share. For those who know them, I apologize if this feels like I am not doing them justice. George has a far more powerful way of instilling these lessons. He laid them out like a path and went into far more explanation than I would be able to. This portion of my blog is just for those who are starting a journey like I am:


    We need to be brave and speak up when things need to be changed, and have the courage to listen, even when the lessons are difficult. 


    Wisdom comes from experience. Hardships and struggle can turn into something positive if we are still breathing, and we can learn from the struggle in order to make life better for ourselves and others.


    It is a valuable lesson to learn that doing the right thing is even more important when no one is watching, and no external praise is given. I have personally found over the years that when one learns that making a positive impact is its own reward, then doing good for your neighbours and the land becomes a habit.


    We all have the spark of life in us, we need to make the spark shine brightly by living our lives with authenticity and integrity.


    We are all responsible for own selves. Generational trauma is real, but we can learn to not carry it. If we break bad cycles, we can immediately create positive ripples for the future generations


    George taught us these teachings in the order that I have them listed. He put Respect before Love because without respect, there is no true love. Respect for the land, respect for others and respect for yourself are all necessary to live one’s best life. 


    Love, as I have learned along my life’s journey and was reinforced on this day, is the key. If everyone came from a place of love, the world would be a far better place. If we all practise it, then we will be the change we want to see.

    I know my knowledge will deepen over time, as I continue this journey and working with the Wahnapitae First Nations and other communities in the area.

    If you have not had a session like this, I highly suggest reaching out to George Couchie and booking him at his earliest availability ( There are deep rooted, systemic issues in the world. Using these teachings, we can all begin to make things better


    Keith Crigger

    Manager of Investment and Business Development at Economic Development, City of Greater Sudbury

    DEI Committee at EDCO

  • 20 Sep 2022 11:45 AM | Stephanie Crilly (Administrator)

    We know that in certain sectors with greater gender inequality just closing the gap in women’s labour force participation could increase economic output by an average of 35%. Progress, however, is slow and is different from one community to another.

    Appropriate economic and financial policies can help change these negative outcomes, improving economies by supporting the recovery and building resilience for the future.

    For example, while the pandemic set women further back everywhere, it also drove policy innovations. Several pandemic assistance programs targeted certain groups and brought more people into social safety nets. These programs make it easier to provide targeted assistance to cope with inflation.

    Investment in human capital to provide everyone equal access to food, healthcare and education are especially large in emerging and developing economies. Communities need to ensure their people can live healthy to be able to contribute to their growing economies.

    One solution is increasing the representation of women in leadership positions is critical. Studies show that a greater presence of women in financial institutions and financial policymaking roles goes hand in hand with greater financial resilience for communities.

    Nour Mazloum

    Marketing & Communications Manager at Kingston Economic Development

    Chair, DEI Committee at EDCO

  • 12 Jul 2022 11:48 AM | Stephanie Crilly (Administrator)

    Barriers for employment and economic opportunities still exists for women and LGBTQ2S+ Canadians. Further, LGBTQ2S+ women face higher economic inequality. Financially, women are still paid less than men. In terms of opportunities, women are more likely to hold low-wage and minimum wage jobs.

    The size of the LGBTQ2S+ economy both in population size and purchasing power is large.

    The economy is changing! The solutions to our most complex challenges will be developed and implemented by people of various backgrounds and experiences. Voices that haven’t always been around the table can hold those solutions we have not yet thought about. Our communities will be stronger when we include everybody.

    The Williams Institute at UCLA collected empirical evidence from 39 countries, 29 of which are emerging economies to map the relationship between LGBTQ2S+ Rights, inclusion and economic development.

    The study notes that when LGBTQ2S+ individuals are denied full participation in society because of their identities, their human rights are violated, and those violations of human rights are likely to have a harmful effect on a community’s level of economic development.

  • 17 May 2022 11:33 AM | Stephanie Crilly (Administrator)

    As a small and mid-sized town economic developer in-the-know, you recognize a prime source of new investment and residents are members of the “Diverse” communities. Over the last few years, we have seen a movement of people of every stripe from the big centres outwards to the exurbs. More recently, small and rural communities even further out are attracting attention. Of particular interest are the opportunities arising from the potential arrival of Black, Indigenous, and People-of-Colour (BIPOC) investments and new residents.

    Getting into the game is complicated by the term “BIPOC”. The term hides the myriad differences between the Black, Indigenous, and many many others that are captured in the “People-of-Colour” shorthand. And to complicate it even more, some PoC sub-groups are so large that there are sub-sub-groups. There are different needs, different resources, different histories and relationships with government and the general population, different influences and influencers, different family dynamics, and different desires. It means there are some numerous considerations when trying to attract, accommodate, welcome, and retain new BIPOC investments and residents. 

    Your community is in competition for these new BIPOC residents, owner-operated retail and services, and small-scale processing or manufacturing. Unfortunately, it’s typically a zero-sum game. Economic developers are recognizing their traditional one-sized-fits-all efforts constrains them and that a diversity orientation gives them a competitive advantage.

    If you are at the starting line on your diversity thinking, your first step should be some basic training in general diversity concepts so that your council, board of directors, staff, and stakeholders have the same vocabulary. Your hope is that along with this new vocabulary, you start to create a safe space for discussing diversity. One thing I can promise you is that the discussions are going to be sometimes dramatic, sometimes painful, sometimes embarrassing, and sometimes ill-informed. Then if you decide that you really want to take diversity on as a core value or guiding principle then you need to be prepared to have this new orientation affect (over time) your operations from governance to branding messages and marketing actions to human resource to program and service provisions to how you evaluate yourself…everything. Another promise…you can either be proactive and be ready for a changing Canada or take your time and react while your competitors eat your lunch!

    How about some worthwhile reading to prime your thinking? Click here for a copy of A Place to Call Home: An exploration of how to attract, accommodate, and retain BIPOC investments and residents. 

    Written by Glen Loo ( — Glen is a member of the BIPOC community and has been an economic developer for over 40 years working in government, quasi-government agencies, and the private sector across Canada and overseas. 

  • 17 May 2022 11:31 AM | Stephanie Crilly (Administrator)

    International Women’s Day is happening on Tuesday March 8 and I was reflecting on how (not so) far we’ve come to Gender Equity and Gender Parity. A report from the World Economic Forum that was released last year titled the “Global Gender Gap Report 2021” examines the evolution of gender-based gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment. I’ll endeavor to provide the quick executive summary for you.

    Key points in this report state that progress towards gender parity have stalled in many of the large economies and industries. In fact, the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years! Due to the pandemic, women have been losing jobs at higher rates than men partly because sectors that have been disrupted by lockdowns have a higher representation of women in them. Sectors with low representation of women are also those in fast-growing jobs of the future like cloud computing, engineering and other STEM related disciplines showing that women are missing out on industries with the greater amount of growth.

    The report does go on to offer ideas on gender equality and recovery opportunities while also highlighting ways that other countries have worked towards closing their gender gaps. Iceland for example has ranked top of the list as the most gender-equal country in the world while North America (Canada and the US) is one of the more improved regions from 2020 with a result stating that it’ll take only 61.5 years to close the gender gap.

    With this information in mind, there were some seminal studies done last year examining the “She-Cession” and some ideas on a “She-Covery”. If you aren’t familiar with these terms “She-Cession” refers to the 2020 recession when COVID hit that there were greater job losses for women than men. “She-covery” is a term that traditionally followed recessions where men lost jobs and women would enter the workforce to help with household finances. In this instance, she-covery is hampered as COVID has disproportionately affected women more due to increased childcare responsibilities and the loss of service-sector jobs.

    Armine Yalnizyan, an economist and an Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers, first coined the term of she-cession and identified that a lack of childcare is a chokepoint for a she-covery. She posits, “There will be no recovery without a she-covery, and no she-covery without childcare.” This prompted an examination of local policies and tactics to help improve the she-covery thereby improving our small businesses recovery in our communities from the effects of COVID’s recession. The first of such documents was shared by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and their report, “The She-Covery Project: Confronting the Gendered Economic Impacts of COVID-19 in Ontario”. Some of the major takeaways from this report include:

    ·  Building in leadership and accountability to set collective targets, reward diversity, and including women in decision making bodies

    ·  A short-term strategy for childcare and improving accessibility and affordability

    · Focusing on critical skills and accelerating reskilling for workforce development

    · Building in pathways for entrepreneurship and economic growth

    · And flexible work arrangements to allow equitable access to work opportunities

    Despite the sobering results from the Global Gender Gap Report from 2021, I am optimistic that we are working together to build a stronger recovery plan that will help shorten the gap and achieve gender parity at a faster pace. Circling back to my original reflection, what are you doing in your communities to support our women and encourage gender equality and gender parity? How do we, as economic developers, bring about change as we build our communities for the future? I look forward to connecting with you at this year’s EDCO Conference on April 5-7th and sharing ideas together. 

    Author: Tammy Hwang, B.Comm, (she/her)

    Business Development Officer, Global Hamilton

    City of Hamilton

  • 01 Feb 2022 2:25 PM | Deleted user

    February 1st, 2022, the first day of the new lunar year and the year of the Tiger. The tiger is typically regarded as the king of all beasts in the Asian zodiac and is a symbol of strength, braveness, and vanquishing evil. Nearly 2 billion people around the world celebrate the New Lunar Year and I think that is a powerful thought when thinking about building up motivation and morale in the workplace. Countries that celebrate this holiday include China, Vietnam, Korea (both North and South), Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Asian communities around the world celebrate this time to come together, share a vision for hope and prosperity for the new year.

    As economic developers, we are charged with attracting and supporting diverse populations both in our offices and in the greater community. Learning more about different cultures including their origins, beliefs, and practices will create opportunities for relationship-building and innovation. It brings us, economic developers, closer to our communities and team members while serving and supporting them to share perspectives in a safe and supported environment.

    Allow me to share some interesting points as we launch into the year of the tiger.

    1. Each Asian country celebrates the New Lunar Year differently. It used to be called Chinese New Year where the Chinese population would celebrate with the colors red and gold. Celebrating the New Lunar Year is more inclusive of other Asian nations where this time is about celebrating the coming spring, spending time with family, and eating!
    2. The Lunar New Year is based on the moon’s 12 phases and each phase is approximately 29 days long. That’s why the Lunar New Year shifts each year.
    3. Each Lunar Year is represented by a cycle of 12 zodiac animals, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. You can determine your zodiac animal by identifying the year that you were born. Each animal has different characteristics and there is significant content around horoscopes and predictions for the year ahead.

    Many Asian cultures are highly superstitious and will defer to the zodiac and predicted horoscopes to guide their decision-making for the year. As I mentioned above, the Tiger is a symbol of strength, braveness, courage, and vanquishing evil. It’s a positive sign and I choose to believe that this year will be the year that we vanquish the challenges of COVID and embrace courage as we navigate into a new time of prosperity.  

    Author: Tammy Hwang, B.Comm, (she/her)

    Business Development Officer, Global Hamilton

    City of Hamilton

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