Bursaries available for Indigenous women to develop public speaking skills

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021 11:28am


Image Caption

Jace Meyer, speaker and coach for Shine Bootcamp


“…all science is the pursuit of a passion, and it requires endless commitment that only comes when there's love in it.” — Jace Meyer
By Adam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Speaker and coach Jace Meyer knows that women are not often put in prominent public speaking roles, whether that’s at conferences or in their jobs. Through her work, Meyer is looking to shift those opportunities.

“My biggest point of coaching is really that you have a story to tell and your story has an impact on people. If you don’t believe it yet, it's because you haven't told your story yet,” Meyer told Windspeaker.com.

Meyer considers herself a nomadic Métis. She’s moved 33 times during her lifetime, which has led to her working all across the country in a number of positions.

In addition to her role as executive director at Indigenous Innovation Institute, Meyer works as a coach for the Shine Bootcamp. Shine is offering $62,000 in bursaries to help “underrepresented groups like BIPOC, LBGTQIA+, persons with disabilities and more level up their communication skills” with a focus on elevating women at the bootcamp’s upcoming public speaking programs.

Applications can be submitted to shinebootcamp.com. The deadline is this Friday, Aug. 6.

“I’ve really seen the impact generally of these speaking programs helping women who don't typically get offered a platform to share their expertise and their knowledge and their stories,” Meyer said.

In particular, the bootcamp places an emphasis on helping women and non-binary folxs in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM).

“Shine helps to create leadership equity threefold: by validating the experiences and uplifting the voices of women, especially Black and Indigenous women; by offering intensive, simulated learning experiences with tangible results and takeaways; and by challenging systems of oppression both within and outside of our organization,” Shine’s statement of purpose reads.

The Shine Bootcamp was conceptualized in 2017 as an internal workshop within software company Unbounce, and has since seen more than 270 women go through its various speaking programs.

“We've had lots of opportunity to now expand our coaching roster, which means that we can also expand the type of women who we want to engage with, and we feel pretty confident that we can pair them with a coach who would be able to help them with their unique story and message,” said Amy Wood, Shine’s co-creator.

Shine also aims to bring a hands-on approach to their teaching methods.

“When you get a chance to speak in a room, a boardroom of customers, or even on medium-larger scale conferences, it really adds rocket fuel to your career and your confidence and your ability to not only see yourself as a leader but be perceived as a leader,” said Erika Finlay, who is the Social Impact Manager at Unbounce, which remains partnered with Shine.

Meyer said women — Indigenous women in particular — have been making scientific progress for generations within their own daily lives.

“All of our grandmas and our aunties, you know that can pickle and preserve and pick and hunt, and, you know, birth and rear children, like, that's the ultimate science,” she said. “And that's inherently within us, but it also requires us to listen to our Elders.”

Meyer spoke about the importance of passion.

“I always see the best scientists that I admire have the ability to bring a really human element to the work. And for me science is storytelling. It's just the observation of the world, clearly communicated,” she said.

“We've removed the heart out of it because we think that makes it more objective, but actually all science is the pursuit of a passion, and it requires endless commitment that only comes when there's love in it,” she added.

Meyer said the “the antidote” to underrepresentation and outdated messaging and ideas in the STEM community is giving more women permission to tell their stories, who can bring in more diverse perspectives and new ways of thinking.

“Once you start telling the truth about who you are, people see you differently,” Meyer said. “It opens new doors for you.”

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.