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Pride Month, Adam's work ID tag, and inclusion for all

Sudbury hospital rainbow mural painted by Risk

Up in Northern Ontario this June on my second book tour for Father Rick Roamin' Catholic, I passed this amazing 60-000-square foot rainbow mural. I smiled. It's the former Sudbury General Hospital building where my son, Adam, was born. As new owners figure out future plans, Risk, or Risky, (Kelly Graval) was the Los Angeles-based artist commissioned to paint what is Canada's largest mural.

No doubt, Adam is smiling too from wherever he roams after his drowning in 2016.

He had never tired of hearing his birth story, how his mom was convinced she was carrying a boy in her womb and how we as parents called that baby, Adam, for months before the birth, and even included "Adam"in the baby's legal name. (A Beautiful Baby Girl! Chapter 3, Soar, Adam, Soar). The intern who delivered Adam told us our baby was a girl.

Adam at Ottawa Pride

Along with Christmas, which morphed annually into a month-long celebration for Adam, he thrived every June for Pride month festivities. The parades, parties, and drag performances by friends were his sweet spot to chase after "the normal" life he craved. I enjoy Pride too, thinking of Adam and the score of revellers celebrating who they are and who they choose to love. Love does win!

But I worry too, wondering how we ensure that these days or even an entire month dedicated to Pride themes of inclusion, diversity, and justice become a passion for all of us all year long. God forbitd that Pride Month be another box to check off for employers, goverments, and the general public, and on to whatever next month's special themes are.

Adam's story reminds me of how far we have come, and still how far we need to progress so that every individual can be themselves and feel safe at work or play. I chatted about this with Adam's former boss, Joel Frappier, as he interviewed me for a "Rainbow Moment" event for Compass Food Services. (Compass has 25,000 associates, is in 50 countries, and in Canada has won several "Best Place To Work" awards) Frappier recalled what happened when he first interviewed Adam for a job at his Cafe Nature in the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa

Proud assistant chef

"When I met Adam, Adam was Rebecca Prashaw. He had applied for a General Help position at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Our administrative assistant and I met with Rebecca to complete his on-boarding. Rebecca was quiet, looking down at the floor and answering our questions. I asked him for a proof of ID and he presented me with a birth certificate and I asked if he wanted the name to include the middle name “Adam” on his file. The ID read Rebecca Danielle Adam Prashaw. He sat up, looked straight at me and said with assertiveness “that’s my first name, Adam”. My answer to him was “Welcome to Compass Group, Adam”. Adam would start his work career with Compass four days later as we needed to get his security clearance with the Museum.

"As we walked to the security desk he looked at me and said, 'this is a precious day for me' and it is when he was presented his name tag that he looked at me with tears rolling down his face and said, 'this is my first ID that reads Adam Prashaw. I’m finally home' and Adam had found his home. The museum would be his safe space and an inclusive workplace that gave Adam a safe work experience.

"Adam had a short journey with us yet he played a major role in our culture at our unit. I can assure you he played a very significant role in the lives of many. Today our special guest is Adam’s dad Rick Prashaw who has chosen to tell the story of Adam’s life and the major impact he has had on many. Adam’s legacy lives on through Rick’s book ”Soar Adam Soar”.