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: Brian Braganza
Current role in the sector: Board Director for Art Happening Bridgewater; Board Director for Twelve Canada, London, Ontario; volunteer and program facilitator with the Tatamagouche Centre, Tatamagouche NS; Program Associate for HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Circle of Trust facilitator prepared by the Center for Courage & Renewal, Seattle, WA.
Years working and/or volunteering in the nonprofit sector: Volunteering for 26 years, working for 22 years.
What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
I was 26, living in Northern Ontario, on my first placement with Frontiers Foundation. We were renovating a home for a Métis family with five children ages 8-12. This was my first time living in the North, I had limited understanding of Indigenous issues, and minimal construction experience, I was on a steep learning curve. I was also connecting in a meaningful way with the family. After my first week, I had a profound realization that this was the most rewarding experience I’d ever had in my life…that I wasn’t getting paid for it made it even more worthwhile. I was hooked on service. Today the children, in their 30s, consider me a big brother, I have attended some of their weddings and they visit me in Nova Scotia.
Describe your desk/workspace.
I mostly work from home in rural Nova Scotia, except when I’m facilitating. On any given day, I’ll often move from my seated desk, to my stand-up desk, to the dining room table, to the island in the kitchen, to the veranda in the summer or near the wood stove in the winter, all these spaces give me glimpses of the outdoors. When I’m in my facilitation workspace I have markers and post-it notes close by, maybe some props for an experiential activity, and a circle of chairs.
What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I often read poetry, parts of autobiographies or nature-related books. I’m inspired by the writings of Parker J. Palmer, who writes about the tenacity of the human spirt and its capacity to sustain and renew itself in times of struggle and adversity. Palmer writes: “wholeness does not mean perfection; it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.” I think this has expanded my understanding of the nonprofit sector because many of us think we need to live perfect lives, to give as much as we can, most of the time, often in adverse settings. I find myself in this place too often, and so I’m wondering how to be more and do less.
What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
Speaking for myself and the organizations I’m working with, I want us to embrace a culture of appreciative thinking and humility, a culture of collaboration and servant leadership. I believe we follow a life cycle, and like all living things organizations are not necessarily meant to last forever. We will have our moment and hopefully during that time we have inspired others to begin their own work to make change, as a fallen tree gives its nutrients to the forest. My role is to send ripples and plant seeds, to create spaces for individuals to listen to their own inner wisdom. I want to trust in the capacity of the human spirit, learn from the natural world, and keep doing the real work.
Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org