Shelley Fashan

Project Coordinator for Pathways to Irving Shipbuilding | Community grassroots activist whose passions are the performing arts, film and politics


Shelley has a lengthy history of community involvement, activism and volunteerism. She was the first African Nova Scotian woman who served on the East Coast Music Association and the first African Nova Scotian woman on the Nova Scotia Arts Council, which was responsible for creating the Portia White Prize. She is the first African Nova Scotian woman on the Lieutenant Governor Masterworks Award and a founding member of the Nova Scotia Mass Choir. She currently sits on the boards of the African Nova Scotian Music Association, the Charles Taylor Theatre and Media Arts Association and the Ujamaa Association and other ad hoc community committees.

Shelley is a documentary filmmaker and co-creator of The Emerging Lens Cultural Film Festival, which celebrates its 8th year of production. She is known for her work with young and emerging artist and creating spaces for them to grow and develop in their disciplines.

She was a former member of the Employment Equity Committee in her workplace, Public Works and Government Services, a member of the Women’s Committee for the Public Service Alliance of Canada and one of the key figures in the longest sit in protest at the Canada Employment Centre on Gottingen Street and lastly, an organizer of the Women’s March on Poverty.

 What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?

My work in bringing together community, culture and social development.


What's your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?

Our biggest opportunity is the mentoring and leadership of our youth, celebrating and recognizing their value. Providing them with the training and tools they will need to continue in the communities growth and stability.


What was your greatest stage of growth?  What made it a shift for you? 

Running for elective office taught me a lot more about people - how much we all have in common. Listening to the many stories and experiences help to open my mind to new learning and possibilities.


What's your favourite or most read book or podcast?

I have always love The Temple of My Familiar, a powerful story.


What's your deepest learning from this past year?

Believe in others as well as yourself.


Who's inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?

The words and songs of the acapella group, Four The Moment, the work of social activist like Jackie Barkley, the talent and artistry rooted in the Black community of Nova Scotia.


What would you have done differently?

I would have received more formal education, there are so many things I want to decipher and explain, but I need that higher education for the analysis and the ability to break down complex issues.


What were your priorities and how did they help you overcome some of the struggles you've faced?

Protecting my children from the racism they face in their environment, making sure they stay strong and confident when faced with adversity and wanting equality of opportunity for all. I know the pain of a racist schoolyard, workplace and justice system. It is important that I not just set back and let it happen, I have to a part of the change.


Community grass roots activist, performing arts, film, politics

Shelley Fashan