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  • Writer's pictureJanice Otremba

The Great Pronoun Puzzle: Embracing Everyone in Our Canadian Mosaic


Okay, today let's stir up that conversation that has been a topic in every corner of Canada – pronouns and names in our daily interactions. Imagine this as a new recipe in our cultural kitchen – some are relishing it, some are cautiously tasting it, and others aren’t sure if it suits their palate. But here’s the twist: this isn’t just a flavor of the month; it’s a reflection of our deep-rooted Canadian values of inclusivity, respect, and empathy. So, let’s embark on this journey with an open heart and maybe a dash of humor!


Pronouns and Names: The Heart of Our Conversations

In our beautifully diverse Canadian society, pronouns and names do more than just start conversations; they weave the fabric of our interactions. These words are like the colours we choose to paint our communal canvas – each one adding a unique shade and texture. They signify our recognition and acceptance of each other's identities, ensuring that every person feels seen, heard, and valued. It’s about understanding that every ‘he’, ‘she’, or ‘they’ is a story, a life, a unique perspective, and if I am missing any, please be kind, we are all still learning.


Example, we have learned ‘they, them’ as a plural and now these words can be used as a singular. My assistant’s parents are in their seventies and are pretty progressive, but are asking why we do not just call someone by their name. It goes beyond someone’s name, it is how they wish to be identified and acknowledged.


Rooted in Law, Growing in Heart

In the spirit of Canadian inclusivity, our approach to pronouns isn’t just a social nicety; it's embedded in the very laws that govern us. The Canadian Human Rights Act's amendment in 2017 to include gender identity and expression was a landmark step. It’s not about enforcing rules but about nurturing a society where respect and understanding are as natural as breathing. This law is a compass guiding us toward a future where every individual can thrive, unencumbered by prejudice.


For Those Who Wonder: Why All the Fuss?

If you find yourself pondering the significance of this shift, you’re not alone. It might seem like a whole lot of ado about something as simple as words. But here’s the core – these aren’t just words; they’re bridges. Bridges that connect us, allowing us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, to see the world through their eyes. It’s about acknowledging that while our experiences may differ, our need for respect and acceptance is universal.


Understanding the Eye-Rollers

To those who might be sighing or rolling their eyes at this, I understand. Change, especially in the way we communicate, can feel daunting, even tiresome. But let’s reframe this – it’s not about memorizing a rulebook; it’s about adding a little more kindness and clarity to our daily interactions. It’s about creating a world where everyone feels welcome, and that starts with something as simple as a name or a pronoun You want to be called by name because it feels right to you, and for some, a name is not enough, the pronoun helps to identify them beyond their name, but their true self.


My Heartfelt Perspective

From a place of warmth and wisdom, I see names and pronouns as our way of saying, “I see you, I respect you, and you matter.” In our workplaces and communities, when we make the effort to use someone’s chosen name or pronoun, it’s a powerful act of respect. It’s a signal that we’re not just co-workers, neighbors, or strangers; we’re a community, a family of diverse yet interconnected souls. And as I’m learning, I have made mistakes and I appreciate the gentle corrections to help me, like the singular or plural, let me know and please do not judge me harshly if I do not get it the first time.


Canada: A Tapestry of Diversity and Warmth

In our Canadian landscape, known for its breathtaking diversity – from the colourful houses of St. John’s, to the vibrant streets of Montreal, to the serene mountains of Whistler – we’re showing the world how empathy and respect can be woven into the fabric of a nation. We’re more than just polite; we’re compassionate, understanding, and open-hearted. Our approach to pronouns and names isn’t about being politically correct; it’s about being humanly correct.


Embracing the Journey Together

As we navigate the ebbs and flows of this conversation, let’s remember that the essence of communication is not in the words we choose, but in the connections they foster. Whether it’s through a pronoun, a name, or a shared laugh, these are the moments that build our community. Let’s cherish the diversity of our stories, embrace the uniqueness of our identities, and celebrate the shared humanity that unites us. In doing so, we’re not just enriching our own lives; we’re adding to the richness of our Canadian mosaic – a mosaic that’s vibrant, inclusive, and beautifully human.


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