The Think Big! Lead Now! (TBLN) YWCA Canada’s Young Women’s National Leadership Program is an amazing opportunity for young non-binary and female-identifying people to explore their leadership journeys and grow their skills. The program is a collective of online learning sessions, keynote talks, self-study, peer support, and civic engagement activities.

Casey and I had the opportunity to participate in the 2020 TBLN program. Since October 2019, we have been sitting in on webinars from inspiring facilitators about anti-racism and anti-oppression, financial literacy, personal branding, and grant writing, and so much more. 

We thought we would share with you some of the learnings and takeaways from the TBLN 2020 summit. These are all excerpts or summarized lessons that each keynote speaker had shared, that made an impact on us to reflect or led us to some introspection:

Larissa Crawford, Founder of Future Ancestor Services

Larissa encouraged us to think about our passions and values and what kind of impact we want to make with the work that we do. Put it on your resume to tell employers who you are, what your mission is – write an impact statement. Impact statements are short and concise – What kind of impact do you want to make and why are you passionate about it?

Brenda McWislon-Okorogba, Moments with Bren

Think about the types of leaders that exist and the unique qualities the each possess. Charismatic, delegative, passive, transitional, affiliative, ethical, etc. How do you fit into those roles? Reflect on what qualities you possess, and how you can harness those skills in your daily life as a leader in your community. Are you attentive, compassionate, honest, confident, supportive, inclusive, creative?

Alicia Sanchez-Gill, Director of Emergent Fund

It seems that microaggressions are passed off so easily these days. As a way to combat microaggressions and direct harassment of marginalized folx, practice the art of clapping back: pause, think before reacting, radical silence can be powerful, use strong wit and intellect, ask questions, get support. Stand in solidarity with others. Think about the impact VS intention of your words and actions. Calling people out/in is speaking truth to power. Alicia also spoke to us about the 5 Ds of Bystander Intervention which you can check out here!

Returning from the conference I felt empowered, bold, lucky, amazed but also overwhelmed. There are so many great women from all over the country and beyond (international students). Not only great because of their open-minded, easy-going personalities but because of their passion, their drive to change the world. Changing the world seems like an impossible task, but when you put over a hundred young empowered and driven female and non-binary folx with the same objective in a room together, it doesn’t seem as impossible as it may feel. This conference represented women and non-binary folks from all over, indigenous, black, muslim, LGBTQ and allies, disabled; some who’s identites intersected and from what we gathered from the youth panel, conversations at the summit and workshop discussions; some shared their stories, and you could tell that because of their lived experiences made their passion to advocate stronger.

This conference taught me a new perspective. There is so much history. Because of the past, we cannot go forward. Because of the past, our brains are conditioned to have judgement and prejudice. Because of the past, people continue to get abused for no apparent reason. This conference made me feel empowered. But also overwhelmed. What can I do more than to educate people on the matter? What can I do more than to practice and model respect and kindness? Imagine what a world would look like without bias, judgement, criticism, hatred… What would it look like?