As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.
Name: Lindsay Daniller
Current role in the sector: Director of Community Initiatives and Strategic Development at REACH Edmonton, Council for Safe Communities
Years working and/or volunteering in the nonprofit sector: 20+ years.
What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
After several years of working for non-profit organizations in Edmonton I was drawn back to the country of my birth South Africa—on a trip in 2002, whilst engaged in the Canada-South Africa Twinning Agreement, I read Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. It had a profound effect on me and I realized that I wished to return to South Africa. And so, for eight years, I did just that.
In this development work I found ways for the most marginalised under apartheid, especially women, to participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and benefit from the economic ripple effect of this global event.
Describe your desk/workspace.
I have wonderful natural light and a round table for team meetings that I like to think reflects the Ubuntu philosophy. Some say it is the universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. Archbishop Desmond Tutu says: “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.” The discussions around that table for REACH Edmonton often reflect that thinking—we are inextricably bound up with others in the community. And as South Africa emerged from apartheid, Ubuntu referred to the need for forgiveness and reconciliation as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which I see as part of the path we walk in Canada to our own Truth and Reconciliation.
What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I read history and politics of the African continent for the depth of culture, impact of colonialism, and the often inspiring way that local and grassroots organizations solve problems. This approach, sometimes referred to as “it takes a village to raise a child”, is universally relevant for effective collaboration in community.
My current African history reading is two anti-apartheid biographies; one by Ahmed Kathrada and the other by Helen Suzman. I follow the Tamarack Institute and FSG to learn about collaborative and collective impact work but also Arianna Huffington on how to get enough sleep and self care!
What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
As a backbone organization, REACH Edmonton is tasked with convening the community to find solutions to complex social issues. We need effective data, evaluation, sense-making and the ability to adapt. In an increasingly intolerant world we, as Canadians, are well placed to have challenging dialogue about how to include everyone in our society and to embrace immigration; and at the same time build reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Nelson Mandela said: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Our work takes courage—but I remind myself not to be daunted!
Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org