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Building inclusive communities ultimately means looking at ourselves more inclusively, which is a challenge unto itself.
It raises questions about what really separates us as human beings and the wisdom we share. Inclusion requires a certain kind of trust in our own worth and the worth of others and puts this trust into practice. In practice, it is never perfect. But there is always value in the journey.
At a conference held by People First Nova Scotia, I encountered a group of people unashamed to take joy in life and celebrate being alive. For the first time, I felt truly included in a social situation. I was no longer ashamed of my inadequacies because as much as my abilities were appreciated, my vulnerabilities allowed me to connect with those around me too. We all needed help. We all had challenges and limitations. So what.
Ten years later, inclusion still inspires me, both as an ideal and as something that is doable, practical and inevitable. As much as we may see exclusion occurring in our communities, inclusion is always occurring too. People have a natural desire to want to be together, to be accepted and to contribute. This will always be the case.
While labeling oversimplifies our point of view, an inclusive perspective embraces uncertainty, awkwardness, and, most of all, curiosity. In ourselves, as well as others, we find depths we didn't know existed. We may also discover we have some limitations. This is okay too. This is the beauty of inclusion.