Celebrating Our Differences - Island A Cappella

Type of post: Chorus news item
Sub-type: Equity and Diversity
Posted By: Gillian Nichol
Status: Current
Date Posted: Thu, 28 Oct 2021

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”       
Maya Angelou


Celebrating our Differences 

Harmony Incorporated was founded on principles of Equity and Diversity. Over 60 years ago, a decision was made to break from Sweet Adelines to ensure that women of all backgrounds and colours were welcomed. Today, the differences we see in our small province stretch far beyond colour and background. We have different world views, different family structures, different abilities, different ethnicities, different gender and sexual identities, different citizenships, different languages and hosts of others.  

As we embark on our own Island A Cappella journey of equity and diversity we are open to new and exciting opportunities, as well as some challenges. At the core is that we appreciate and celebrate difference and that we strive to ensure that all people have access to the same opportunities.

My mother, Betty, was a wise woman. One of her first lessons I recall was that ‘there is beauty in difference’. She explained to my three year-old self that the earth would be very boring if flowers, trees, animals and human beings were all similar. She always sought out difference, with the solid belief that we have something to learn from everyone. 

Some people struggle with the value of difference, arguing, ‘aren’t we really all the same?’ And we are; we are all part of the human race. Although this view comes with positive intent that we should all be equal; in truth, we are not. Our experiences are different depending on our personal and life situations. 

When we look at the world through our own eyes, we are limited…limited by the fact that we have a roof over our heads when 23 percent of humanity are without.  Limited by the language we speak when 95% of the world speak languages other than English. Limited by our ability to read when 17% of people cannot read or write. Limited by having a safe homeland when more than 1 billion people are living in some form of exile from their countries. We are also limited by not knowing that the person next to us may be hard of hearing, have learning difficulties, have an invisible disability, or even be traumatized by home abuse. 

Appreciating our differences helps us understand ourselves as well as others. We can appreciate our own fortunes, however challenging life may be and continue on a journey to enable humanity to be included, to have similar privileges we do and to work towards a good quality of life, however that may look for them. Because the most significant reality we come to realize is that our own limited views have often held others back from full and active roles in society. By learning about and celebrating our diversity we are enriched beyond measure.

Learning about our differences starts with being curious and being open to learn from others. This comes in many forms…. through personal connections (perhaps new members of your community who are from other countries), through books (like The Illegal by Lawrence Hill), through movies (like Pride produced in 2014), through courses (like Indigenous Canada offered free through Coursera), through reading other’s experiences in news reports, and connecting with resources like Pride PEI or the Immigrant and Refugee Services Association of PEI. At the same time, we must always be respectful of others and their right to privacy, taking responsibility for our own learning. 

The membership of Island A Cappella boasts a range of experiences with different cultures, creeds, abilities, socio-economic status, age groups, sexual and gender identities.  We can learn so much from each other.  If you have questions, see differences that you don’t understand or may have difficulty accepting, you are not alone!  Our Island A Cappella Diversity Leadership Team may be a place to start.  We would truly appreciate receiving any questions or comments you have, which could prove great foundation for ongoing learning and future discussion.  

We welcome you to come join us and be part our own collective journey to respect and include all others.


Gillian Nichol (she/her) October 28/21