Tara Everett – Change, Cultural Appropriation and Indigenizing Coworking

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Hi guys and gals! Welcome to yet another episode of Coworking Values Podcast! Thank you for always tuning in with us. For this episode, we have Tara Everett, Founder of the Canoe Coworking in Manitoba and currently known for bringing a diverse and inclusive lens to not only coworking but to entrepreneurship and business nationwide and internationally.

We are going to be talking about the current issues the world is facing aside from the Pandemic. In line with the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, Tara will talk about change, cultural appropriation, inclusion, indigenous culture and how coworking fits in that puzzle.

 

What do you hope for the future?

 

I think the reality is, is we always had the resources and the people and the willingness to do the work, but we never made time for it. 

So I hope that moving forward, we not only as a human race but as a coworking movement, we take time to look not necessarily at our strengths, but also at our weaknesses and say, How can we continue to sit with that uneasy feeling that a lot of us get in these circumstances and situations and say okay, there’s a reason why I’m feeling unsure, or uneasy about my decision or my viewpoints on here.

What can I do to make that better in a long term. And then, good healthy way. And so that’s where you see a lot of the discussions are starting to happen because people are tired of these, you know patch solutions and we want long-standing change.

And so that’s what I think is going to happen is people are going to start making time not only for themselves, again because I find that in society, a lot of us work too much or we don’t find good healthy balances. In fact, some of us don’t even like where we work at all. But then moving forward. 

We can look beyond ourselves as people and look to our greater community and I think coworking out it right at the very beginning, which was a very community and collaborative minded environment.

And we just need to stick to our roots and just strengthen those roots in a know a more inclusive way, moving forward.

 

Links

Tara Everett
Canoe Coworking
Tara on Twitter
Canoe Coworking Twitter
Canoe Coworking Instagram

 

 

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Bernie J. Mitchell 0:03  

Good afternoon. Good morning. Good evening. Good middle of the whatever it. This is the European Coworking podcast which we call the Coworking Values podcast and continuing our like week by week series of podcasts about what’s going on in the world. We were getting excited with just doing COVID. And now, the whole world’s woken up to Black Lives Matter and everything that happened with George Floyd and the police in the US. And we’re going around our community highlighting all the people that have been doing stuff and have taught us stuff about how to approach this incredibly important topic that seems to be neglected by so many people for so long.

Zeljko Crnjakovic 0:52  

This episode is brought to you by Cobot a leading management software for coworking spaces, office hubs and flexible workspaces around the world. You know, one of the best things about cobalt is that it is produced by people who manage a coworking space and know the ins and outs of the main problems and issues, bugging coworking managers. So, if you want more time for your co-workers and community, check out cobot@cobot.me and take your coworking management to the next level.

Bernie J. Mitchell 1:25  

And on the line today from not from Europe, but from sunny Winnipeg. Did I say that right? 

Tara Everett   1:30

Yes, you did. 

Bernie J. Mitchell 1:32

Thank you very much. It’s Tara Everett, Everett. Sorry. So, Tara, what are you known for? And what would you like to be known for?

Tara Everett 1:41  

Yeah, so I am based here in Winnipeg, Canada. I am known to be one of the only indigenous or First Nations or Native American Indian depending on which region you’re from – owned and operated coworking space called Canoe Coworking and I’m currently known for bringing diverse and inclusive lens to not only coworking, but to entrepreneurship and business nationwide and internationally.

Bernie J. Mitchell 2:12  

Yeah, you sound so grown up when you say that.  So, I met Tara in person, as a lot of people in London in Europe did last year when there’s a comic book that a company made, and it was totally unintentionally, culturally inappropriate. I didn’t, I’ll tell you exactly what happened in in our house is, I said to my wife who’s from Argentina… I look, you know, I never noticed that, and she said, well, you wouldn’t because you’re a white European male, and it just doesn’t occur to you. Because she’s from Argentina and she’s way more aware, she just may be smarter than me anyway, but she’s way more aware of these things. And then result of that is that Cobot and Exodus who make coworking space software. So, this was something that needed addressing in the Coworking community, as we talked about in the podcast with Kofi, and they sent their private jet for Tara – flew over to London and we did an event in London about cultural appropriation. And this is yet another thing where I kind of thought I was informed. But as we spoke, Tara and I went to speak at a university in London, about coworking and freelancing. So, what for those that don’t know, and there’s probably a lot is what is cultural appropriation? And why is it so important? And how is the world unfolding for that topic and you at this moment in time, Tara?

Tara Everett 3:47  

So, I mean, there is your stereotypical definitions of cultural appropriation, which is just going into a culture and either using something that is specific or sacred to them in a way that shouldn’t necessarily be done. And depending on where you are in the world, I can take a lot of different shapes and visions. So, for people familiar with first nations culture or indigenous culture, you’ll notice a lot of people taking on headdresses for music festivals or going about and having ‘Pow wow’s or using tepees’, and so on and so forth. And I always say that it’s the intention behind the people using those gifts to our culture in a way that shouldn’t necessarily be reflected in theirs. And so, when, when I brought forward what was just a comic that didn’t necessarily hit right with me, and I realized that this was a space that didn’t necessarily have a lot of advocates in coworking, I stepped up and came over on my private economy jet to London. And realize that, again, these aren’t necessarily bad people doing bad things, these are good people with good intentions and they just don’t necessarily realize like yourself that they are doing something that might be hurtful to other cultures and, other peoples.

Bernie J. Mitchell 5:18  

And how, in the particularly the events of the last couple of weeks – a little bit from my perspective as a lot of activity in the UK, which I think is long overdue, so I’m kind of… Oh, great, everyone’s paying attention, and again, even in that statement, there’s a bit of a… well it’s not all okay, is it? As an incredibly informed observer that you are Tara, how do you think the world is unfolding and what should we be paying attention to?

Tara Everett 5:58  

Yeah, no, absolutely. So, to give you a bit of context, I’m only about eight hours drive which is very close in North American standards to Minneapolis, it’s considered one of our sister cities. And honestly, when I travel, I normally fly through Minneapolis. So, when this started happening it hit really close to home, Winnipeg has one the highest indigenous population in large urban centres. And so, although I don’t want to take away from the incredible work that the Black Lives Matter campaign has done and continues to do in my community. 

Tara Everett 6:34

It made me realize not only my own shortcomings as a person who identifies as somebody with barriers or an indigenous person towards our brothers and sisters with the Black Lives Matter movement. But also, that change was coming, and change is never a comfortable experience for people, let alone those of us who have experienced either direct or indirect racism. So, my biggest tips are to step back and let the people doing the work that they – do the work. So, let them direct it, follow those calls to action and continue to support above and beyond the new cycle because we know that the new cycle is super short. And these issues are generational, quite frankly, in a lot of our cases. So, it’s going to take a long time and continuous efforts to get to the bottom of it.

Bernie J. Mitchell 7:30  

We will continue asking on this podcast and in all the little European and London and UK, coworking groups we’ve always said that we don’t want to be a new cycle as you say we want to keep doing this. What can we actually do? What can we keep doing because so many things go… Oh yeah cool, Black Lives Matter let’s make lasting change… Oh, there’s a new series on Netflix… and you totally forget about what is really important. What kind of take aways could you say to the listener, to do this every day for the rest of your life?

Tara Everett 8:19  

I think the most important thing they need to do is look in the mirror, because our experiences as people and our backgrounds are so diverse and so unique that I would I as a person or, or people as a movement, I don’t believe should ever be able to say, do this one action or this one way because one thing that I was taught is that there are many ways of approaching very complex issues. And so we have our activists on the street, we have our protesters, but we also have the people in healthcare that are fighting COVID and we have people like you and I in the background trying to, support our economy and many of our friends and community members who have lost their livelihoods. So, there’s not one way to battle this ongoing issue truly the only way is daily reflection and daily action on how we perceive things and how we put that into measurable action. If that’s donating 10 quid as they say, over there, or if it’s, spending an hour of time at a soup kitchen, just make a difference is the biggest statement that I can do and continue to do that, and that’s hard. I speak from lots of experience waking up every day. It’s hard to do, and it’s hard to try and focus on that, but it’s something we need to do, or else we’re not going to get anywhere.

Bernie J. Mitchell 9:42  

So, you mentioned COVID there that reminded me that you were at CU Asia when COVID really kicked in for the world. Is that right?

Tara Everett 9:52  

Yeah. That was!

Bernie J. Mitchell 9:57  

How was it, and when you go to events what do you talk about at events? I know but, so why should people have you? What message are you trying to spread when you go to events?

Tara Everett 10:18  

I get really excited when I get invited to these international events because it shows that people are looking beyond their own borders to solve solutions or to see other issues that they might not be completely aware of. So, when I was invited to CU Asia by their team, it was an absolutely incredible experience starting with the absurd flight that I had to take because I’m located in the middle of North America. Normally I would go over the Pacific to get to Asia, but I actually had to go over the Atlantic and then the Middle East.

Tara Everett 10:52

 So, it was a lot of time to think and when I arrived, I’ll be honest that my sails were deflated. And I felt really concerned about the future of my coworking space and that of my friends. And being there and sharing this message of inclusivity and diversity and looking beyond our own comfort and borders, and even to our friends and family that were in in the room a lot of the time was just really eye opening. And it was a lot of work with just recognizing that different abilities and inclusion of every colour and every race and every application was valid. And that I believe was incredibly well reflected in the work that the CU Asia team did. And when I travel it’s just eye opening every time I go; I learned a different message and I feel like they learned a different message every time I go.

Bernie J. Mitchell 12:02  

How was your journey back?

Tara Everett 12:06  

It was wild. So, it took about 30 hours one way to get there, and then same thing back. And by the time I got back, I arrived home a week before the Canadian borders closed. And where I’m located, we are actually considered one of the leading areas for isolation. And for people really taking charge, I think we’re on day five or six of no new cases in our community, which is huge. And so, when I got back, I really had to scrutinize my own business plan. I’ve been trying to open a physical location for about two years. And what I realized upon returning was that this is going to be a worldwide shift in perception and action. And so, over the last few weeks since I got back from Asia, I’ve been changing everything to virtual. And it has been astounding how quickly people are reaching out and are ready to make that change. 

Bernie J. Mitchell 13:13  

What do you hope for the future? Which might sound a bit of a vague question, but you spend a lot of time connecting with this side. And I’m hoping for a good answer here, Tara, what do you think’s available for us, as a coworking community and the human race? If that’s not too big question.

Tara Everett 13:35  

I think the reality is we always had the resources and the people and the willingness to do the work, but we never made time for it. So, I hope that moving forward, we not only as a human race, but as a coworking movement, we take time to look not necessarily at our strengths, but also at our weaknesses and say how can we continue to sit with that uneasy feeling that a lot of us get in these circumstances and situations and say, okay, there’s a reason why I’m feeling unsure or uneasy about my decision or my viewpoints on here, what can I do to make that better in a long term, and good, a healthy way. And so that’s where you see a lot of the discussions are starting to happen because people are tired of these, patch solutions, and we want long standing change. And so that’s what I think is going to happen is people are going to start making time not only for themselves again, because I find that in society, a lot of us work too much or we don’t find good healthy balances. 

Tara Everett 14: 50

In fact, some of us don’t even like where we work at all. But then moving forward, we can look beyond ourselves as people and look to our greater community. And I think coworking had it right at the very beginning, which was a very community and collaborative minded environment, and we just need to stick to our roots and just strengthen those roots in a more inclusive way moving forward.

Bernie J. Mitchell 15:17  

That roots thing is very reflective a lot of conversations we’ve had around groups in Europe, and there’s a big conversation going on which I’m stoking the fire on about local coworking and people not mindlessly going into cities, like I do too, but actually being in their local area and how a coworking space can be, pivotal in the centre linchpin part of the community. And which actually is one of my last questions – how does Canoe Coworking feature in the local community because it’s a coworking space for indigenous people and why is it specific to that group of people? How is it worked out and ambition for it?

Tara Everett 16:12  

Yeah, so when, and I speak because coworking and Canoe Coworking was very much a personal story for me of finding out that I couldn’t access the services and programs to get into long standing self-employment. And when I started looking for ideas onto how to bring that to the community in a new and exciting way I stumbled upon coworking and people such as yourself who really inspired me to go beyond just clock in clock out, you’re in the office or out of the office and look at coworking as an actual movement and an actual tool in which to do good work. And that really reflected to me my values as an indigenous person looking beyond just one sector are one life cycle. 

Tara Everett 17:03

So, you’re at work, you’re at work… well, no – you’re at work, but you’re a person with a family and obligations. And the indigenous population where I live is very historically has been traumatized and has been colonized and sent to residential schools, it can be a pretty heavy topic. And so, I wanted a way in which we could share our strengths and our weaknesses together as a group and grow from it. But also invite people that don’t necessarily know how or about indigenous culture to come do business with us so that we can learn together, and we can move that forward. So, it’s a bit of a unique take. It’s been working beautifully for us now that we’ve kind of got the seat under our paths. And we’re moving forward. It’s been it’s been a really exciting time. 

Bernie J. Mitchell 17:59  

Tara, how far back does that feeling – like in the UK people talk about, 400 years of the slave trade, how far back does that pain go in generations? For you as an indigenous person?

Tara Everett 18:22  

Yeah, so actually, you see this a lot on online where people will say… well, that was so long ago, this doesn’t happen anymore, or, that was our great grandparents time… And the reality is that the impacts of colonization, whether or not their intentions were good or bad, started with people arriving in North America and there is a very different approach to lifestyle and, and land management between indigenous populations and non-indigenous populations historically. And so, when Canada was colonized, treaties were signed and essentially revoked a lot of our rights as indigenous people in the land on which we stood. So, you’re talking hundreds of years, very similar to what your experiences, but it’s still ongoing. 

Tara Everett 19:22

And I think that can be said for racism or any kind of concerns we might have about our actions as the human race across the world is that regardless of when this when this atrocity happened, we’re still experiencing the generational impacts. Like I said, generations down the line. So, a great example is people hear about the 60 scoops, which is the Canadian government’s coming into indigenous homes and removing children and placing them with non-indigenous families and that severed cultural connections for a huge amount of people, including myself. And so, it’s hard to put that into perspective for a lot of people. But what I can say is that I definitely have noticed a shift in the right direction. And I’m happy to keep trying to facilitate that and to keep that growing.

Bernie J. Mitchell 20:21  

So, whenever I hear stories like that, I used to go… Oh dear – and now it lands at an even deeper level. It’s very hard to imagine that unless you spend time with people, which is exactly what I really encourage people to do because over the last few years, I’ve asked more awkward questions and falling over myself as Tara, will tell you. And, just as white people, so I don’t want to upset any of my white European friends but as white European people we need to find out what happened in the rest of the world and the impact our economy has had on countries that weren’t originally ours. So is there anything else you Is there anything I could have asked her that I haven’t because I get very excited in these things and I miss key points.

Tara Everett 21:29  

I think we did a good job and I think the only thing I would encourage you to do, which I know you have been doing is – just link to those resources and those changemakers within your community that are doing good work, and continue to be diverse and to be open because I think we need like you said, you’ve really opened up your podcast and your opinions and your thought process to two places from all over the world and we just need more people who are willing to ask those questions because we recognize, and I recognize, that it can be a very awkward and a very unsure place to be. And so not necessarily asking all the questions but just starting out with, what am I doing and then looking for those resources. And I think that that’s a really great start and you can just start with yourself, right?

Bernie J. Mitchell 22:26  

Beautiful. Okay, folks, we’re gonna draw to the end now, I just got to say a huge public thank you to Tara and Jeannine who, in 2019 when my father died, they were actually staying at our house in London. And what a beautiful way to be held by people an important time of your life. So, if you ever come across these two people, make sure you connect with them because they are very, very, very special. And we have as, Tara just mentioned there, we are actively looking for people to contribute to this conversation we’re having about inclusion, diversity and accessibility for this podcast. So if you’re listening to this and you don’t know who we are, get in touch with us, hit me up on LinkedIn or Jeannine on LinkedIn or Zeljko and get in touch and invite yourself onto this podcast because there’s millions of people in Europe anyway, that we want to connect with this conversation. And there’s, as I said, in my last podcast, there’s a lot of old white chubby, middle aged men that I connect with, and we’re looking to get outside that circle. And while you’re here, go to the European Coworking Assembly site and sign up for our weekly email. There’s so much stuff going on around COVID support people connecting all over Europe and through this podcast, and just do your best to make change happen in your local community every day. Stay safe and take care of each other. Thanks very much, Tara say goodbye.

Tara Everett 23:58  

Thank you, Bernie. Have a great day, everyone.




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