This spring, Engage Nova Scotia partnered with CBC Radio’s Mainstreet for more than 15 on-air segments, five blog posts and four in-person community conversations, featuring hosts Bob Murphy on the mainland and Wendy Bergfeldt in Cape Breton. Through this series of lively conversations about progress and possibility, Nova Scotians from across the province had an opportunity to reflect on the culture of their community, their values and their openness to change.
This was a bold initiative for Engage Nova Scotia, motivated by our conviction that culture and narrative play a fundamental role in both what propels us forward and holds us back. We were gratified by the engagement it elicited and impressed by the willingness of those who participated in the live events to speak honestly and shed light on difficult issues.
In Cape Breton, people spoke about the emergence of a new identity for the region and cited difficulty seeing our assets as one of their biggest barriers to moving forward.
In Digby, participants shared concerns about division between small communities, a lack of focus on diversity and inclusion, and difficulty working together.
In Pictou County, where a tough amalgamation debate had left many feeling hurt, a conversation about the future could have deepened the divide further. Instead, a shared desire for greater collaboration began to emerge over the course of the evening.
In Halifax, a group of youth and young adults aired their frustrations about the limiting beliefs they think hold Nova Scotians back, as well as their desire for more opportunities for under-represented voices to be heard.
Openly naming our challenges, especially in the company of people who think differently, is a brave step forward. Listening to understand the other's point of view is an even greater step. Now more than ever, we are encouraged by the number of people who are stepping up, speaking up, and showing up to demonstrate how deeply they care about our province and its future.
We believe that open conversations about opportunities and challenges are an important starting place for change. The benefits of deeper and more candid dialogue were evident at each Speaking Up event and you’ll find a visual summary of the initiative below.
For additional inspiration, we recommend viewing the photo album by clicking here, listening to audio clips from CBC Mainstreet, which you can access by clicking here and reading these blog posts written by Danny Graham, which originally appeared on cbc.ca in April and May:
- Where is home? Do you identify by your region of the province or as a Nova Scotian?
- How would you rate Nova Scotia as a place to live? Why do you choose to live and work here?
- Are you ready and willing to change? Do you feel able?
- How do you measure success? Quality of life or economic growth?
- Which would you prefer—go faster alone or further together?