Photo credit: Leilah Dhore.
From her early years in Trinidad and Tobago, to volunteering with the YMCA, to serving on numerous boards and committees, Nicole Waldron is all about giving back to others. Her previous experiences set the stage for creating her own path, while encouraging others to do the same. Through her drive as event specialist, advocate, entrepreneur, volunteer, host, mother, and friend, Nicole not only approaches obstacles that come her way with positivity and passion, she thrives and rises through it all.
The Edge was lucky to be able to speak with Nicole about helping others, entrepreneurship, mental health and advocacy.
In 2018, you were recognized as a part of “100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women” and have worked as an event planning specialist. Can you speak about your experience as a Black female entrepreneur in Canada?
I never really saw myself as an entrepreneur; I just saw myself doing something that I loved in my community. [Early in my career] I didn’t always see the full value of what I was bringing to the table. Through experience, I’ve gained a different level of confidence and boldness. I’ve met and worked with really amazing individuals on many different projects. In events, you have to think quickly and pay attention; my line is “love is in the details,” and as an entrepreneur you have to know how to stay humble, even though you’re trying to fight for yourself. Being a Black entrepreneur, you hold a different level of excellence, a different level of expectation. For me, it’s about evolving and continuing to learn.
You are a strong supporter of many important causes, including mental health. Can you speak more about your involvement in destigmatizing mental health?
I have many loved ones who are navigating mental health challenges. I was going through this experience [of trying to help others] and encountering roadblocks. The mental health system felt like Mount Everest, especially within the Black community, and I wanted to find solutions. I found people didn’t know where to go for help or what to do. It just shows how much work needs to be done. I wanted to learn more about the challenges and barriers [and I became involved in different advisory committees with CAMH (Centre for Addictions and Mental Health) to make sure everyone had a voice and was represented]. It’s important to recognize our journey and challenges, to keep going, keep fighting, have faith and believe that change is possible.
In addition, you are a fierce advocate regarding anti-Black racism and broader systemic racism that impacts many groups and communities. Can you speak more about this work?
When I first moved here [at 19], I wasn’t aware of racism to the degree I am now. I really understood more when I started getting into leadership roles. I started to see the disparities in housing, in leadership and who was at the table. Going to meetings, I’d be the only Black person there. I love history, but I didn’t really understand Canadian history and how deeply embedded systemic racism was. There can be this subtle racism, and that’s what makes it so dangerous. When dealing with racism, we need to see how big it is. It affects our education, our children and our healthcare system. It’s so deeply embedded. With Canada’s history, we need to teach our children not just stories of slavery but showing our champions and celebrating them. In advocacy, when you can educate, that’s when you equip people to be better.
In your Victory Speaks show and podcast, you discuss many topics and guide listeners to lead a life with vision, intention, and creativity. How did this come about and what do you hope it will bring to your listeners?
The podcast started out of my natural desire around advocacy. When George Floyd was murdered, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I couldn’t shut up. I wanted to really check in with people, and encouraging others is what propelled me into it. I have met so many individuals who motivated me and this led to my interviewing people. [On the] Victory Speaks Show, Mondays became about celebrating leaders and icons in our community. Wellness Wednesday is for mental health and physical wellness. The people I interviewed are willing to be vulnerable and authentic, equipping the listeners with the tools to live a life of victory. I don’t claim to know everything, but together we learn and we can become the best parts of ourselves.
What challenges have you faced, and what advice would you give to others to overcome barriers and build resilience?
The biggest barrier was fear. The fear of other people’s opinions, the fear of comparisons. I suffered from the feeling of impostor syndrome and I talked myself out of a lot of things. I’m lucky that I have a very small inner circle of friends who have helped me along the way; I refer to them as “iron sharpeners.” When I didn’t recognize my voice was powerful, they saw it in me and encouraged me. I’m very inspired by my son and want to do better for him. I think self-care and therapy can be valuable for everyone and doing tough work and self-reflection is important for a productive life. Sometimes you have to shift your perspective and have a chance to reset in order to propel yourself forward. It’s so important to have a vision for your life and to really look at the big picture.
Stephanie Hawkins | Contributing Writer