Our Storm Clouds & Silver Linings series tells stories of some Nova Scotia nonprofit organizations and how they’re rising up to meet the very real and profound challenges and opportunities for innovation during COVID-19. These stories are a snap-shot in time taken before the reopening process started.
Delmore "Buddy" Daye learning Institute
Interview with Chief Executive Officer, Sylvia Parris-Drummond
Focused on education generally and Africentric education and research specifically, the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute (DBDLI) provides learning opportunities about African Nova Scotian, history, heritage and culture both for the African Nova Scotian communities and the broader Nova Scotia population. “Over the years, our Halifax-based facility has hosted numerous government and social sector organizations’ meetings and training events,” says Sylvia Parris-Drummond, CEO of the DBDLI. “Attendees absorb the cultural atmosphere and experience direct learning about African Nova Scotian history, heritage and contributions.”
Cindy Parsons, Community Outreach Worker- Halifax Regional Centre for Education, says, “I appreciate the collaboration and professional manner for inclusion, equity and diversity the DBDLI demonstrates, especially for young learners.” She sees the Institute as a place for families, too. “You feel comfort, and the beauty of Africentric educational information. It's like a Black learner’s library. Seeing books that look like me makes you passionate for those who made the way for us today.”
Currently, the doors are closed to the public on site and programs, projects and awards can’t be offered in the way they used to be. Under the restrictions of COVID-19, the staff team is working remotely. With safeguards in place, they sometimes choose to work in the office. The DBDLI and staff are applying for supports from various sources to keep things moving and grow capacity in other areas. They want to ensure that they are there, in whatever structure possible, for community.
"The biggest immediate impact on our work was the inability to hold face-to-face meetings and in-person gatherings, particularly with youth,” says Sylvia Parris-Drummond. “We do a lot with community, students and educators in collaboration with the public school system, post-secondary institutions and community-based organizations. That translates into 7,000 African Nova Scotians learners and their families we now hope to reach by alternative means.”
“Ramping up so quickly to do everything remotely is a big learning curve,” Parris-Drummond continues. “Using virtual meeting formats such as Teams, Zoom, and Skype for business will prove to be important in terms of recovery, too. Staff, in their plans, are incorporating the use of online tools and training.”
Parris-Drummond herself embarked on self-learning around understanding and supporting staff during COVID-19. How to hear them well, at the same time emphasizing the importance of self-care, while leading remotely. “There's excitement and great energy. I think we’ll see a lot of creativity in our new way of doing things.”
Of concern to Parris-Drummond is how we monitor and ensure academic and social/cultural support for learners as they move to the next education level or into the work world. As education and learning remain the focus of the Institute, she sees the Institute continuing to take a leadership role in research and planning around future education practices in emergency situations and preparing students for success while being mindful of the importance of physical and mental wellness to achieve their best academically.