A Discussion on Black History Month with Georgette Morris

Black History Month brought into focus the life stories of influential figures. Amongst them stands Georgette Morris, a Board of Governors member, and PhD student at Carleton University. In discussing her experiences, which are marked by resilience, overcoming discrimination, and fostering community engagement, Georgette’s story not only inspires but also exemplifies the significant role of leadership in shaping a more equitable world.

Born and raised in the then-quiet city of Brampton, she witnessed Brampton’s transformation from a less developed area to a bustling urban center, and it was then when her interest in urban development and community engagement took root. This was nurtured through her work in the city’s numerous recreation centers, a testament to Brampton’s claim to having the most recreation centers per square in Canada.

Being exposed to these stimuli while growing up has influenced her academic choices; Georgette’s academic journey commenced at York University and was marked by a deep passion for social justice. Pursuing an undergraduate degree in Human Rights and Equity Studies, followed by a bachelor in Social Science, a master’s in Public Policy Administration and Law, Georgette’s academic interests were deeply intertwined with labor, policy, equity, and human rights. These interests led her to Carleton University for a PhD in Law and Legal Studies.

This rich academic background led to many professional roles which spanned across various levels of government, including the House of Commons. Georgette’s time in the Privy Council Office, Employment Social Development Canada, Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council equipped her with a unique governance and policy-making perspective.

Among her many achievements, winning the Graduate Student of the Year award at York University’s School of Public Policy stands out as a significant moment of pride. Similarly, being accepted into two MA programs simultaneously, especially after facing initial setbacks, underscored her philosophy of learning from failure to achieve success.

When asked what her advice is for people who want to follow her path she says:

“Always be open to learning. I find that in all the roles that I’ve had I was open to trying something new, thinking about something differently. You don’t know where and how you’re going to learn. You could learn from somebody who’s been a manager for 30 years or a 4 year old child. We all have different perspectives and ways of seeing the world. I would always urge people not to be shy from learning, and take up opportunities that don’t seem as exciting or as fun.”

Applying to become a Graduate Student representative on the Board of Governors at Carleton University is reflection of her desire to contribute meaningfully to the Carleton community. Her volunteering in various committees and boards was not just a professional choice but a demonstration of her commitment to larger conversations that influence policies and practices.

Despite her accomplishments, Georgette faced significant challenges; she encountered discrimination in her professional life, leading to legal battles with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. These instances reinforced her belief in the power of understanding and utilizing policies and laws for justice.

In her reflection on Black History Month, Georgette emphasises the necessity of recognising the unique achievements of African Caribbean and Black Canadians, emphasising that such recognition should go beyond one month. She believes in the potential of inclusive and varied methods in both professional and community contexts, and advocates for simplicity and thoughtfulness in promoting change. Georgette sees Black History Month as relevant to her professional trajectory, encouraging her to continue advocating for fairness, equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice. This moment of contemplation solidifies her dedication to learning about and appreciating the often-overlooked achievements in numerous sectors, emphasising the importance of continual awareness and appreciation.

When asked who some figures are which she admires, Georgette instantly mentioned Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian MP, who is a great source of inspiration for her and the rapper Nas to whom Georgette looks up to because of his musical talent, personality and for his impact on hip hop music in the States, and globally.

As we observed Black History Month, Georgette Morris’s story intertwined with the larger story of Black resilience and achievement. For Georgette, this month is about recognition – of the struggles, the progress made, and the work still ahead. It’s also about commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive world and fostering future generations.