In June, we celebrate Pride Month. Pride Month recognizes and celebrates the impact the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirited and other identities and orientations (LGBTQ2+) community have across the globe. The month commemorates the Stonewall riots – a series of demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ2+ community in response to a police raid that began June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan, New York City.
To celebrate Pride, we sat down with Ashley. Ashley is a long-time TC Energy employee, inclusion advocate, and member of the LGBTQ2+ community. Thank you, Ashley, for courageously sharing your story with us.
Just last week, Ashley, her fiancé Megann and their three dogs Huey, Lilly and Zoey packed up their life in Calgary, AB and headed East across the prairies to their new home in Swift Current, SK – where Ashley will continue in her new role as our Heartland Area Manager – Central Region for Canada Gas Operations.
However, Ashley’s journey at TC started over a decade ago, when she joined the Pipeline Maintenance Project Management team as an Engineering Intern. Since then, she has progressed through the organization, honing her technical skills, leading projects and teams, and making a big impact on our business and our culture. What everyone may not know, is that while Ashley was kicking off an impressive career, she was contending with coming out to her family, friends and colleagues.
“At an early age, I knew I was gay. I have a wonderful, tight-knit family – but we come from a household that didn’t talk about the LGBTQ2+ community. I really didn’t know where to start,” shares Ashley.
For many years, Ashley suppressed her authentic self and thought “this isn’t happening, this can’t be my life”. Her internal struggle reached a boiling point the year before her TC internship, when she faced the devasting loss of her mother.
“My life was turned upside down, I had to grow up quickly – and it also made me realize how short life really is. I finally came to terms with the fact that I was gay and started to tell my support network of close friends,” she says.
“For the majority of my internship, I was paired up with an amazing Project Manager, Kay,” shares Ashley.
Kay, who has since celebrated her retirement at TC, had a profound impact on Ashley’s life and her career. “We often referred to Kay as the ‘mother’ of our team. Her caring nature, encouragement, willingness to mentor and listen intently earned her that nickname.”
“The close and transparent working relationship I had built with Kay made me feel safe enough to show up to work as myself. I was able to bring my whole self to work every day and eventually, this helped me muster the courage to have those same conversations at home”.
As a new leader at TC, Ashley is committed to paying it forward and creating the same safe, inclusive environment she experienced.
“My personal experience is what drives my passion in ensuring every team member – regardless of who they are, always feels valued, safe, and comfortable enough to bring their entire selves to work every single day,” shares Ashley. “Take the time to listen, be vulnerable, keep an open door and an open mind, and build trust with your team.”
“I encourage everyone to share your story. Diversity and inclusion are so important, and representation matters. You never know how life-altering or the lasting impact you can have on someone’s life,” she adds.
Do you have a Pride story? Whether that’s your journey, honouring a loved one, celebrating an event, or recognizing someone for their allyship or support – we encourage you to be vulnerable, and share.
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