We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on Laurie O’Connor of the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre in Saskatoon, SK.
What is your role in food banking?
What a question! I don’t know if you want me to say the Executive Director or something bigger! [Overall,] I think our role should be to create transformative, systemic change to the ways in which folks are kept in poverty.
Describe a typical day in one word.
What was your inspiration to get involved in food banking?
My parents were very involved in setting up the food bank in South Porcupine, ON and as such, I have been connected a long time to this work. What hooked me about the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre was a job in the Learning Centre in my early days here. The deep commitment of this organization to addressing the root causes of poverty and hunger have always been my anchor.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role?
My greatest achievement would be ensuring our organization lives by its values of Respect, Innovation, Collaboration and Compassion.
What is the greatest challenge in your current role?
A challenge would be changing attitudes in the general public about the reasons folks use a food bank and breaking down the stereotypes that people hold about folks living in poverty.
If you could have one wish granted that would address hunger in Canada what would it be?
My wish is that more money came into the pockets of people who live in poverty. It sounds simple and it is complex but I think a basic income and a living wage are great ways to start.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to be able to sing and dance. I am too serious sometimes and I think others around me feel uncomfortable with that – so if I could sing and dance to lighten the mood, that would be great.
If you could tell your younger self advice, what would it be?
Become the best authentic listener you can possibly be, don’t solve and just listen. Too often we rush to a solution without considering the unintended consequences.
Who are your heroes? Fictional or real life.
When I see people who live in poverty looking for opportunities to give back, I feel inspired. When community members come forward to do the hard work of governance of our organization or sorting groceries it helps me to get centred in the work we are doing. Community leadership, in whatever arena is the true strength of any place.
What is your idea of happiness?
The older I get, happiness includes quiet, whether it is contemplation, reading, drinking coffee or wine, quiet and still are things that make me happy.
What is your motto?
Assume best intentions and DWYSYWD – or Do What You Say You Will Do
Something quirky about you that others may not expect or know?
It’s quirky but I think everyone knows, I like things on time, people, projects, reports – as a matter of fact, I like them a little ahead of time.
Your theme song?
Anything by the Tragically Hip – my favourite is Grace, Too. I have long tried to live my life with grace.
Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.