She Rocks! Ann Divine – Race Relations Advocate/Human Rights Ambassador

Ann is one of the few Black female employees at the senior management level at the Nova Scotia Public Service Commission, and has become a well-known and respected Ambassador for change and inclusivity in the Commission, and her community.  She was born in Guyana and currently resides in Canada. Ann is currently leading a two-year, province-wide, Research Initiative to engage academic institutions, government, businesses and communities in Nova Scotia on Employment Equity Partnership.

Ann Divine, Human Rights Ambassador

In addition, Ann is leading a major change initiative in the Correctional Services on human rights and culturally diverse issues. The goal of this two-year program, is to train all 600 staff members across the province. She is the Manager of Race Relations, Equity and Inclusion Division and joined the Commission in September 2007, from her previous position as Planning and Development Officer with the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration.Ann’s professional career spans several years in criminal justice, education, social work, management, diversity, human resources, immigration and mentoring.

As an accomplished professional with extensive managerial and people management experience, Ann influences strategic thinking and decision-making processes at senior levels in government and other stakeholders, providing expert advice and support to government, business and community organizations. She understands corporate governance and is an expert in human rights issues. Her skills in organizational change, leadership and diversity led to her spearheading the groundbreaking five-day workshop, “Creating Cultural and Organizational Change”, for businesses and institutions across Nova Scotia, on behalf the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She is also the Commission’s lead on the Employment Equity Partnership initiative.

Ann’s expertise includes working with sole ownership to corporations in Nova Scotia. In her current position as a senior manager, she conducts training sessions on human rights education for executives, senior managers and their staff in businesses across Nova Scotia. In December 2010, at the 3rd Annual Symposium on Inclusive Education and Employment to recognize International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Ann raised the issue of disabilities in the African Nova Scotian, immigrant and refugee communities and challenged the audience to start recording credible statistics and conducting academic research. There are currently no reliable statistics, nor current authoritative research on disability on visible minorities in Nova Scotia.

Background: Prior to her arrival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2004, Ann worked as Chief Aide Officer to the Chief Probation Officer in London; Senior Probation, North East London Probation Service (1992-98); and Education Social Worker. She was also Vice-Chair of the Association of Black Probation Officers (1996-98).

Community: Teaches and mentors immigrant women in her province; co-hosted International Human Rights Day in the historic Black community of North Preston (December 2010); led a highly publicized and successful event marking International’s Women’s Day in Halifax (2008); volunteered in various capacities in her local community in East London; and was a Parent Governor for the London Borough of Waltham Forest (1996-2000).

Affiliations: Board member, Integrated Settlement and Immigrant Services (ISIS; 2006-2009); involved in the Engaging Immigrant and Visible Minority Women in Leadership Roles Program; member, Nova Scotia Public Service Diversity Roundtable, an advisory body to government; member, Coordinating Committee on Domestic Violence in Nova Scotia; Co-Chair of Partners for Human Rights, a coalition of organizations working together to promote human rights in Nova Scotia’s communities (from 2008); former member of the Board of Directors, YMCA, and former Chair, Immigrant Strategic Group, Halifax (2006-2008).

Honours: Co-nominee, Premier’s Award  for outstanding leadership (2010); participated in Nova Scotia’s “Come to Life” promotion; featured at Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm’s annual luncheon (2005).

Other: Interviewed by CBC Radio and Television for her work in organizing International Human Rights Day, (2010); featured in “Come to Life” video for Symposium on Inclusive Education and Employment, and International Day of Persons with Disabilities, (2008); televised interview with Breakfast Television, International Women’s Day (2007); co-researched and co-authored a significant study on racism-free workplaces (published in June 2006, on behalf of the government of Canada); televised speech on Global Television, Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and Partners Against Racism on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and featured in national “Come to Life” Nova Scotia Life television commercial (2006); participated in Premier’s State of the Province Address, television interview with CBC on Parliament Hill at the installation of the 27th Canadian Governor General, Michäelle Jean, television interview with CTV (“New Immigrants to Nova Scotia”. (2005); featured in Halifax’s, The Chronicle Herald newspaper (“Briton’s Reluctant Immigrant”), interviewed for TV documentary, Inner Tears, on immigrant women in Nova Scotia, reflecting on the feelings of immigrant women in Nova Scotia (2004); engaging and inspirational national and international public speaker; Certified Canadian Life Coach Practitioner.

Education: BA with Honours, Sociology, University of East London (UK); post-graduate Diploma in Social Work, and Masters in Human Resource Management, Middlesex University, London.

Favourite book? Outlier by Malcolm Gladwell. I found it fascinating because Gladwell is attempting to define success and why some people are more successful than others. He called them “Outliers.” These are men and women who, are outstanding in their achievements which was not achieved by themselves, but other influences such as their “culture and community, family and generation.” I am intrigued by his statement: “It’s those who lie outside ordinary experience who have the most to teach us.”

Favourite quote? “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi

Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? Take a trip to Venice; go on a gondola ride.

Who inspires you? My long-time partner and friend gives me great inspiration. He remains resolute, despite the many adversities he has experienced in his life. For him the “glass is always half full.” He encourages me to take risks, and push the boundaries. If Malcolm Gladwell knew him, he would call him “an Outlier.”

Why do you do what you do? I am very fortunate in my life to have accomplished what I have, especially, as a recent immigrant to Canada. My success was not earned entirely by myself; others have contributed too. They mentored and supported me along the way; family, church family, friends and my community. I want to do the same and make a difference in the lives of highly educated and intelligent immigrant women in my community who have so much to offer, but are not recognized for who they really are. If can help one to achieve their life ambition, then my living shall not be in vain.



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