People are drawn to public engagement for all kinds of reasons, but Kyra Brown’s motives have always been personal. “The first reason that comes to mind is being excluded as an indigenous person,” she says. “Not just myself, but my mom’s generation, and my grandmother’s generation.” Kyra is Métis, and says that her family has long struggled with being made to feel ashamed of their indigenous identity. That, in turn, has led to other struggles with addictions. Now, Kyra wants to change things by going straight to the source. “I believe that it’s time to have a fundamental sense of inclusion. I want to feel included in this city. I want to feel included in my community. And I want it to be authentic. And that means participating.”
By day, Kyra is a project manager and organizational facilitator who has recently moved into one-on-one coaching and personal development. She has also served as part of her community league, and is a board member for Aspiring Women in Leadership and Legacy (AWiLL). In everything she does, Kyra makes it a priority to ensure that women, marginalized groups and indigenous populations are given opportunities to be part of a successful community. “My interest is in understanding how we can come to the table and participate in creating change, in what involves some very real challenges for folks,” she says.
As the City of Edmonton moves towards a more holistic approach to engaging the public, and away from the silo structure she observed in the past, Kyra is heartened to see a stronger connection starting to be made with residents whose voices often go unheard. “We’re all community members, from the homeless to the well-to-do. No matter what our living situation is,” Kyra says. “It’s pretty humbling, actually.”