Educator / Social Justice Advocate / Policy Consultant, Nova Scotia Department of Education & Private Consultant, SVParris Consulting, Halifax, NS.
Sylvia Parris is a consultant in the Department of Education with the Nova Scotia provincial government. There she supports policy implementation and analysis, and provides professional development experiences for department, school boards and staff. Her skills and expertise have been utilized by other government departments such as the Department of Justice, where she served as Senior Policy Analyst, and by education partners such as the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), where she served as Department Head for ACCESS Programs. She works in both the public and private spheres in the areas of racial equity, cultural proficiency, social justice and gender equity.
She utilizes her private company work (SVPARRIS Consulting) to support African-Nova Scotian communities and the broader community to develop visions, develop and implement strategic plans, operationalize business plans, and strategize to build capacity. Some of Sylvia’s more recent projects include: Project Coordinator and co-writer for evaluation of the African-Canadian Transition Program (Akerley Campus, NSCC, Nova Scotia); principal evaluator of the Rights of Passage Program (Community Justice Society, Nova Scotia); and facilitator for the Africentric Parenting Workshops and African-Nova Scotian Supporting Your Child Workshops. Sylvia has also served as consultant for the media awareness network, Passages to Canada, and developed an African-Nova Scoitan community engagement strategy for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
Other: Sylvia is committed to lifelong learning in both the formal and informal realm. She attends community meetings and sharing sessions to learn and nourish her community spirit. She has also played a leadership role through facilitating learning; she has taught in the public school system in Nova Scotia for the better part of 15 years. As well, she has served as instructor at St. Francis Xavier University and Mount Saint Vincent University. Has presented and been published on topics related to africentricity and diversity.
Works: Refereed articles: “Exploring Cultural Worldviews Through African Canadians’ Lifelong Learning Experiences: Lessons for Post-Secondary Institutions” in The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities, and Nations, (2010; 10 (4), 207-216); “Empowered by Afrocentricity – The Experiences of African-Canadian Students in a Master Degree Cohort Program in Education: Implications for Adult Educators and Post-Secondary Institutions” in New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development (submitted August, 2010 – under review).
Affiliations: Include, President, Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children; Member, local chapter of the Congress of Black Women; Vice-President, Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia.
Honours: Sylvia counts the hand painted picture from a youth session she facilitated to be on par with awards received from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies (2006), and Equity in Education; also received Supporting all Students Award, Nova Scotia Department of Education.
Education: Master of Arts, Lifelong Learning: Africentric Leadership, Mount Saint Vincent University; Master of Education, Curriculum, St. Mary’s University.
Favourite book? I love books dearly. I am the person who has shelves stuffed with books that have been read, and waiting to be re-read, as well books waiting their time to find their way to my nightstand. My favourite book is the The Book of Negroes. I love the strength of the main character, Aminata, and the authenticity of place conveyed; particularly regarding the Nova Scotian connections.
Favourite quote? Lately, I have had the opportunity to be quoting often, a statement from Maya Angelou: “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? I want to work and live in Paris for at least one year. I want to experience, as fully as possible, the French cultural experience, while integrating myself as a Black woman of African descent.
Who inspires you? Many who know her say that I remind them of my mother. If that is true, and I am proud to think so, I have been inspired to love family and God and to live in a way that models loving self and others. I am inspired by children who aspire for greatness and struggle to be fully who they can be.
Why do you do what you do? I want to walk and live in a way that brings the best of me and the best out of those I meet. I do what I do so that there is real opportunity for those who are burdened by being marginalized by society’s constraints.