It was a cold winter night in Ottawa on January 21, but warm and cozy at The Wild Oat Bakery, where Media Action Média was excited to be hosting its first “Ask Women Anything” event of 2015. The goal of these AWA events is to feature amazing women from our own community and allow them to present themselves and tell their stories however they choose, without the media constructing them in any way. And this one was incredible from the get-go, featuring Rachel Decoste.
Rachel Decoste wears many hats. A software engineer by trade, she is also a motivational speaker, published poet, active community volunteer, mentor, and contributor to the Huffington Post Canada and HuffPo Québec where she has commented on race, ethnicity, diversity, multiculturalism and immigration in the Canadian context. She is a race relations expert, and has been named in Ottawa Life Magazine’s Top 50 Personalities edition. Needless to say, the audience was treated to an evening that was both inspiring and entertaining, as Rachel shared her story of growing up in Ottawa as the daughter of immigrant parents, being raised in a Francophone household, and her how her experiences led her in a circuitous route to finally find her voice.
Despite not having written an essay since high school, when Rachel felt that she wasn’t being represented in the media, she starting writing op eds, with her first piece being published by the Ottawa Citizen. From that day, she has been taking the media by storm, sharing her perspective and working to increase her audience’s ethnocultural knowledge.
Rachel explained to the audience that part of her motivation for speaking out is a deep love for her country, and that “having uncomfortable conversations” about race, immigration, and diversity is the only way that Canada is going to be able to change and grow as a country – comparing the lack of diversity in Canadian media and positions of power to when women didn’t have the right to vote.
The thoughtful and relevant questions from the audience event were proof of how inspiring and engaging Rachel’s words were for everyone in attendance.
Media Action Média would like to thank:
- Rachel Decoste, for telling us her story and encouraging us to take part in public discourse to help foster social change
- Our audience, who listened, asked fantastic questions, and took part in our raffle draw
- The Wild Oat Bakery for letting us host this event in their lovely café
- The hard-working volunteers who helped make this event so successful
- Our promoters and raffle sponsors