Who’s in your sleigh? A reflection for a smoother ride.

London at Christmas?

My younger sister and I had been instagramming reels to each other about all the wonderful things to do in England’s capital since Covid. Now she was about to be between jobs and the window of opportunity had swung open. As we messaged back and forth throughout November, my brother said he was up for it, too.

“We’ll create memories”, she messaged me. That’s when I knew I wanted to go. But I was also quite (very?) apprehensive. We are very different, so I wondered how we would find playing tourist together.

Our story is one of diversity.

To begin with, my family is multiethnic. I am one of five children born and raised in Montreal by British immigrants. I was raised in a multiethnic family. My younger brother and I are adopted, from two different backgrounds. I am of Italian and Mauritian descent, while he is of mixed Anglo-Saxon and African-Canadian descent. In other words, we grew up, aware of different physical differences, but also with the effect it can have on personality and individual preferences.

We are multilingual. We spoke English at home and our home lifestyle heavily influenced by British culture since our parents were from London and Liverpool. We left Quebec at the beginning of the 70’s due to the political unrest and moved to Ottawa. Three out of the five of us attended bilingual high school. Later, my older brother married a Canadian Chinese girl and lived for a while in Asia, learning Cantonese and even some Indonesian. My younger brother and I loved linguistics and have studied a number of languages, my brother specializing in Scandinavian languages, and I enjoying especially Italian and Spanish. I married a québecois and raised my two sons in Quebec and in French. That was a conscious choice. Over the years, I have seen how that choice affected vacation and holiday traditions and habits.

We are multi-vocational. Although the five of us have worked in educational capacities, one studied agronomy, another administration, and the other three did teaching. However, now we’re doing community work, special education, adult spiritual development coordination, coaching and posing for art classes. Bottomline: we’re all highly educated, well-travelled and very opiniated!

Not only that, but our diversity extends beyond ethnicity, language and career lines. Lifestyle choices and religious/spiritual beliefs diverge as well. And that’s where the rubber hits the road.

Our story is one of inclusion

Our few days together in London showed me the extent to which our story is one of diversity AND inclusion. There we were sharing a same hotel room and visiting the sights and lights of London at Christmas together. I think three keys helped us.

We chose to be open, accepting and thankful. I’m not saying there weren’t tense moments when our conversations wandered into areas of conflicting opinion (i.e. monarchy and the Commonwealth), or when dashing wildly through the Tube and running across the Westminster Bridge to get to the Lights Tour bus on time after being given wrong directions, or while waiting for one or the other when shopping at Harrod’s.

All in all, I don’t regret a minute of our trip. It was precious, meaningful and essential. Bonding is not always sugar and spice, but reality and honesty.

Diversity is a reality, but inclusion is a choice.

Claire Maria Ford

We don’t always get to choose who’s in our sleigh, who we we work with, or even live with, but we can choose to be open, accepting and thankful. In my family, we are all very different, but we are all Fords. And we always be: diversity is a reality, but inclusion is a choice. The photo I chose reflects this beautifully.

As I go into 2023, I am considering: How can I make a step closer to inclusion in my family, workplace or community? How about you? What are your plans?

If this resonated with you, drop a line below. And above all, keep learning!

Claire :o)

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