Black History Month Employee Feature – Shawna-Kay Thomas

Q: What does a day look like in your life as Director, Corporate Communications & Culture?

A: Generally, I try to get started before our daily sharing circles with the team, by catching up on things that may have come through after my working hours. On any given day I could go from checking in with team members, recruitment and onboarding to planning for positive employee experiences and communications to business development and strategic planning to rolling out new processes and guidelines to social media planning. The day usually ends with me planning for the next day. 

Q: What do you enjoy most about your role?

A: I like that the role is staff focused! I enjoy working with the team, strategizing and executing initiatives/projects/activities, knowing we produce our best work and experiences when we do it together. When people know they are seen, heard and valued it makes my heart happy. 

Q: What’s the most important part of Black History Month to you?

A: Celebrating my people and culture does it for me! Intentionally spending more time to reflect on the fact that my history as a Black person didn’t start when Black people were enslaved. It’s important to always remember I’m from a lineage of Black leaders in all areas of life, community builders, inventors, innovators and scholars. I am reminded that my community is! We do not only represent the past but we are here now and we also have a future.  

Q: How will you be celebrating Black History Month?

A: I’m Black Blackity Black all year long! ✊🏾 I celebrate my people and culture everyday but let’s just say I quadruple that during Black History Month. I am a bit more intentional about watching movies, reading and engaging in discussions on Blackness and sharing the knowledge with my daughter. 

Q: Who is an inspirational Black figure and why?

A: I have so many! But for this piece I’d say Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce would be one. This sister is from humble beginnings, has made it in sports and remains committed to her values, family, community and country. She also has a great sense of humour! I also draw inspiration from Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, not because of her political beliefs, but the fact that she never swayed to the wind of classism and colourism, persevered and held true to her commitment to her country despite the naysayers. 

Q: Tell us about a memorable moment is Black history that influenced or shaped your career/life.

A: When Barack Obama was sworn in as US president in 2009. I was in graduate school and I recall watching it from my dorm room with a few friends. I’m not sure how many people went to class during that inauguration ceremony. I’ll never forget! Annnnd, as if that wasn’t enough, Obama was re-elected in 2012. *drops mic   

Q: Tell us about one of your favourite aspects of Black culture. 

A: It’s not just one. IT’S. ALL. OF.  IT. 🤣 (Well almost, but you didn’t ask about what I don’t like 🙈) The way we cook without recipe as the ancestors guide or portions, our belly laughs, our fashion, music, scholarly contributions, body language and our sense of community. I love my people and my culture. We’re not just a race, we’re a whole mood, an experience!

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