Bringing diverse ideas and people together
About Gina Valle, founder of Diversity Matters
My parents were post-war immigrants to Canada from Italy. Several years after their arrival, I was born in Toronto. Three years later my brother was born. As my parents worked around the clock, my grandmother cared for us in our home. I attended public schools throughout my life and had my first job at the age of eleven. From time to time I would adopt a Hollywood version of life, but otherwise I instinctively knew that everything in life would require considerable work. Eventually, I also came to understand that my failures would outnumber my successes, but with perseverance dreams can come true.
There are three foundational pillars that have shaped me as a person. First, I have a dual vision. Since I travel daily between the rural, southern Italian culture I acquired inside the home and the urban, mainstream Canadian culture I encounter in the world outside, each day I build bridges of understanding as I create a new culture, one that straddles the old world in which I was raised and the new world of contemporary society. There is no doubt that the schism between these realties has allowed me to see and experience the richness of a dual vision.
Secondly, I see you in me. When I look at you, I search for what is common between us as human beings. The cornerstone of all meaningful human dialogue and interaction is to treat my neighbour the way I want to be treated. This is perhaps even more true in a multicultural society. When I view my life as interconnected with yours, then you and I can begin to talk and make changes.
Thirdly, as a woman raised in a traditional culture, I was only expected to wed and embrace motherhood. The added dreams of higher education and an established career were niceties. As a woman I needed to define and express my identity and once I did that I was able to work alongside other women to ‘rewrite’ the script that had been written for us.
In essence, my work consists of righting some wrongs and that can be anything from discrimination to loss of dignity to violence. In a small way I try to make small but meaningful changes.
My husband, David Chemla, continues to provide patience, compassion and inspiration in everything that I do. The joyful expression in my children Gabriel and Alessandro’s faces grounds me in my work. I am grateful for my family. They take precedence in my life above all else.
Oh yes, and what makes me laugh – watching my children eating ice cream on a cone, trying my hand at any kind of baking, dancing to music with a good beat, drinking caffe latte with lifelong friends and endeavouring to drive standard in the hills of Southern France.
Thanks for tuning in.
Gina Valle speaks several languages and holds a PhD in Teacher Education & Multicultural Studies from The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto.
Prior to receiving her PhD, Gina earned a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Bachelor of Education (Ontario Teacher’s Certificate).
Gina has received the Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Office of the Governor General and the Ordine al Merito from the National Congress of Italian Canadians for her significant work in diversity in Canada
See Gina's LinkedIn Profile.