Dr. Miriam Sekandi is the CEO and Founder of Break Free Zone a unique development platform for individuals desiring to break free from socio-cultural conditioning that causes family and racial trauma. She is also a leading consultant, keynote speaker, and facilitator who is passionate about parenting, mental health, diversity, equity and inclusion. She is also the author of the international bestselling book “It Takes a Village to Wreck a Child.” Her professional experience over the last 30 years includes education, training and consulting for secondary and post-secondary institutions, facilitating workshops and consulting for non-profits and post-secondary education in Canada.
Dr. Sekandi is a lecturer at the University of Alberta in the Secondary Education Teacher Education Program, Board Chair of the Alberta Black Therapists’ Network, and a Facilitator with Black Mental Health Canada. She also leads the implementation and integration of the Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) Models for at-risk youth transitioning to independence within Boyle Street Community Services – Group Living Program.
Dr. Sekandi holds a Ph.D. in Secondary Education and an M.A. in Textiles and Clothing, both from the University of Alberta, and a B.Ed and Dip. Ed from Uganda. She is passionate about and available to speak or consult on the following topics: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Racial Trauma, Intercultural Parenting for BIPOC, Self-Empowerment and Personal Development for Immigrants and Newcomers.
Coming to Canada in 2004 from Uganda, Dr. Sekandi was always an advocate for social inequality. Because of her background as a teacher, Dr. Sekandi can identify disparities in today’s classrooms or our communities. Even though she experienced some direct racism in Canada, it has mainly been microaggressions and systemic inequalities she has dealt with.
Dr. Sekandi believes there needs to be a diverse composition of teachers in the schools because of the diversity of students. Many hiring practices highlight the need to hire diverse individuals, but unfortunately, “the doors are open for everyone to come in, but the space inside is not for everyone.” For example, Dr. Sekandi is trained as a teacher in Uganda, yet if she applies, she finds that the “experience that is wanted is very Canadian specific.” The system, language, and procedure used to recruit are not inclusive. Despite qualified immigrants applying for positions, the requirements do not match their experiences.
The need for diversity is evident, but the Black perspective is important as well. There is a “need to look at things from a multileveled space.” In terms of education, the government has a huge part to play. If a policy is regarding diverse needs, then there is a need for diverse people to look at it from a different perspective. It is also about holding everyone accountable to the policy regarding issues of racism and discrimination.
“Racism is experienced in different ways and at different levels,” Dr. Sekandi states, and children learn about racism at home, from television and books. Culturally safe environments need to be created for students. Dr. Sekandi recommends getting more people on board to fix a situation. This might include external help, parents, and students to sit on a committee.