Coordinator of Youth Initiatives & Projects
Chanae Parsons is an African Nova Scotian woman indigenous to the historical African Nova Scotian community of Lucasville and a loving mother to her beautiful son, Cairo. She is a Dalhousie University graduate specializing in the area of Social Work and is an experienced policy researcher. In her role as Coordinator of Youth Initiatives and Projects with the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute (DBDLI), Chanae develops and leads the execution of DBDLI youth centered projects while building meaningful relationships with African Nova Scotian communities. She played an instrumental role in creating and executing the Institute’s Ancestral Roots Awards - an initiative which pays homage to young adult leaders of African ancestry across the Province.
Chanae participates on several province wide leadership boards and committees, such as the African Nova Scotian Sexual Violence Committee. Chanae is also an active member of the Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers where she provides support to a wide range of African Nova Scotians in vulnerable positions and assists in delivering community workshops. She is passionate and is experienced working with diverse populations in areas of youth, research, program development, and group facilitation.
What’s your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?
The common narrative is that Canada is the land of the free, embraces diversity and is committed to inclusion. While this may be our national aspiration, it is not our national reality. Racism and discrimination are apart of a Persons of Color everyday life in Atlantic Canada. Ten years from now, I can only hope for a country free of racism and oppression for its most vulnerable peoples.
Eradicating racism involves recognizing it, acknowledging it, educating ourselves, and reflection. My plan is to continue fostering honest dialogue across the Province on the experiences African Nova Scotians in hopes of suppressing racism within Atlantic Canada and beyond.
What was your greatest stage of growth? What made it a shift for you?
As a woman of color, going through the Education system in predominantly white schools, I rarely saw people who looked like me, shared similar experiences, or demonstrated the same values. It wasn’t until my university years that I stood unapologetically in the full and complete truth of my Blackness. University was the awakening to my work as a self-proclaimed racial justice advocate and where I learned to speak up and out on the injustices people of color experience. In other words, I stopped prioritizing my white comfort, trying to blend in, and began centering myself as a Black woman. This story is not mine and mine only, but a shared story of many of our young Black women coming into womanhood within a predominantly white society. Make no mistake that I always knew I was Black, but I started embracing what it means to be Black in hopes of changing the lived experiences of those to come after me.
Who’s inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?
I’ve had many mentors and individuals who have played instrumental roles in shaping me into the woman I am today. From my mother as a single parent, and friendships that help ground me and remind me of my power. But my most recent and immediate inspirer is Sylvia Parris-Drummond, CEO of the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning institute. Seeing a Black woman in a position of power, believing in my leadership and sharing her wisdom to community and beyond, is an empowering experience for me. I am forever grateful for her leadership.
What are the principles you live by?
Hold your integrity high, remain loyal and honest, respect others, value difference, focus on growth, embrace your truth, never lose sight of your aspirations and goals, and do what makes you happy.
Advocate, Activist, Youth Worker, Strategic Planner, Coordinator, Motivated, Humorous, Courageous, Strong, , Leader, Compassionate, Fearless.