Making My Voice Heard
by Chloe Gagnon, Nova Scotia
I consider myself extremely lucky to know two languages, but this was not always the case. I began my life living with my French family in a predominantly English community. French was all I knew. It wasn’t until we moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, when I was six, that I started meeting new people and learning how to communicate in English. This was not always an easy task. I remember the very first day I met these two girls on my street: they invited me to come swim in their pool by pointing to my house and implying that I should run home and change into my bathing suit. However, I understood it as them sending me home. I ran home crying to my mother. The two girls came over to my house and explained to my mother that they had just invited me to their pool and wanted me to go home and change.
This event was a turning point in my life as later I realized that if I hadn’t gone back out and played with these girls I would not be as fluent in English as I am today.
To this day, I still have anxieties about speaking in English, especially when it comes to public speaking. However, these anxieties are limitations I put on myself and it shouldn’t matter if I am not saying a word correctly or pronouncing it the right way, as long as my message is coming across that is what matters.
I believe leaders come in all forms. I never really considered myself a leader until I was told I was one. I have attended many leadership conferences and events, but I never thought I was one of these so-called leaders. I work in an environment that features many strong women leaders, and I am honoured and proud to be among them. Working for the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women has given me a new sense of self. Being part of this organization has allowed me to understand that leaders don’t always have to stand out in a crowd, but make sure your voice is heard because your voice counts.
As I continue to make way in the world, I attempt to challenge myself in all aspects of my life. I attended French schools from kindergarten through to university. Three years ago I began an Arts degree at Saint Mary’s University; this was my first English institution. Soon I will graduate and venture out to try something different. My anxieties about speaking in English will always be a factor in my life. However, I know that my voice and my ideas about the things that I am passionate about have a stronger influence than my perceived barriers.