It may be a wonder how a small-town girl from Nova Scotia obtained worldly perspectives, but if you ask Caitlin Downie, she will explain how her parents instilled culture into her life.
“My parents worked for Dalhousie University and were constantly pushing me to see new perspectives, different ways of life, and exposing me to different cultures and religions,” Downie explained. “We travelled a lot, and our house was a revolving door of international students.”
After completing an honour’s degree in Social Anthropology and Sociology at Dalhousie, Downie went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Ottawa. She was still writing her master’s thesis when her partner got a job in Fort McMurray. So, she decided to take the trip up and start job hunting.
She was eager to work to get involved in the community and within a week of arriving in Fort McMurray, she received a call from the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo.
Since then, Downie has become a project lead for community initiatives like the Welcome Centre and Cultural Awareness Training. She also was one of the founders of the Collaboration for Religious Inclusion and was appointed to the Regional Advisory Committee on Inclusion, Diversity and Equality (RACIDE).
In 2016, Downie moved into a new position at the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) as a social planner to develop regional planning around diversity and inclusion, supporting Family and Community Support Services.
Now, she is the RWMB’s supervisor for Neighbourhood and Community Development Corporate and Community Services and currently is the chair of the Canadian Commission for the United Nation’s Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities.
During Downie’s free time, she volunteers for a number of organizations including Pride YMM to support the local LGBTQ2S+ community. She is responsible for developing the Rainbow Spaces program, and she was also among the group who launched the first-ever local public pride celebration in 2017.