Stage Door News

Ottawa: The NAC announces Germaine Chazou-Essindi as its first Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Monday, May 3, 2021

Christopher Deacon, president and CEO of Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC), announced today that Germaine Chazou-Essindi will take on the new position of Director of Diversity and Inclusion, effective immediately.

Prior to joining the National Arts Centre, Germaine Chazou-Essindi was the Director of National Policy, Programs and Partnerships at the Department of Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE), responsible for more than150 complex national projects involving diverse communities, including Indigenous women, Black women and women of colour (IBPOC), the LGBTQ2A+ community, as well as other vulnerable groups (e.g. women with disabilities). Germaine Chazou-Essindi is an accomplished leader, bringing over 15 years of experience managing grant and contribution programs within the federal government.

“In its strategic plan, the NAC has committed to eliminating any inequities within our own structures, said Christopher Deacon. “We are also seeing collective action to address the systemic racism that Indigenous people, Black people and people of colour face in our institutions, both as individuals and as communities. We must act to make our stages and spaces more diverse, accessible, equitable and inclusive. Germaine Chazou-Essindi’s extensive experience, interpersonal skills and extensive knowledge of diversity will help us create a more welcoming and respectful space for all.”

As the first person to assume the role of Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Germaine will play a key role in implementing the NAC’s strategic plan, The Next Act (2020-2023), in terms of values and commitments to transform and shape a more diverse, just and inclusive environment for NAC artists, audiences and teams. She will work closely with members of the executive, as well as managers at all levels of the organization, to review, revise and guide policies, processes and systems to foster a healthy and supportive work environment. In addition, she will provide guidance and advice on internal and external communication strategies to diversify audiences, including equity groups.

“I am proud to join the National Arts Centre,” said Germaine Essendi-Chazou. “I am eager to begin the work of supporting ongoing efforts at inclusion the NAC. In order to move forward, all of us must equip ourselves with knowledge and tools and then take action together to address the barriers and disadvantages faced by diverse communities.”

NAC COMMITMENTS TO DIVERSITY

Germaine Chazou-Essindi’s arrival aligns perfectly with the plan to lead and support the renewal of the Canadian performing arts sector announced by the NAC in August 2020. This plan highlights the NAC’s will to promote diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion:

“Engaging people in the performing arts is our passion. Artists tell stories that inspire and move us. We bring to light those powerful stories and make space for diversity of voices and perspectives on the national stage. Through the experience of the performing arts, we strive to inspire, challenge and entertain, and to create opportunities for dialogue and understanding that remind us of our shared humanity.”

-- Excerpt from “The Next Act”, the National Arts Centre’s 3-year strategic plan (2020-2023)

The NAC’s mandate is to welcome a broader range of stories, cultures and artists, as well as previously excluded voices and perspectives. In 2019, the NAC presented the inaugural season of Indigenous Theatre, the first of its kind in the world, showcasing Indigenous stories and promoting the work of Indigenous artists.

The NAC is committed to increasing the diversity of artists and arts organizations that it collaborates with to create, produce, co-produce and present new work. This is demonstrated by some recent major initiatives, including the NAC English Theatre’s collaboration with Black Theatre Workshop as its co-curating company for next season, as well as diverse programming such as #Danceforth, #NACOLive, #CanadaPerforms and Prologue(s) series, recent National Creation Fund investments, and online learning and education offerings. The NAC is determined to make its stages and spaces more diverse, accessible, equitable and inclusive.

ABOUT GERMAINE CHAZOU-ESSINDI

Germaine Chazou-Essindi has played a leading role at WAGE as a co-champion for diversity and inclusion. She has long worked to advance the vision of an inclusive workplace encompassing concepts and practices of accessibility, accommodation, equality, and anti-discrimination and anti-harassment. Her responsibilities included the implementation of anti-racism and anti-oppression training and the development of the departmental diversity and inclusion strategy.

Germaine Chazou-Essindi has also worked to develop partnerships and networking with Indigenous communities across Canada. Her knowledge of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples has made her an important resource in the Indigenous recruitment process. An excellent communicator, she has raised awareness of inclusion and diversity issues, as well as the challenges faced by some employees.

She is known for her ability to manage challenges effectively and for her ability to bring together the views of different stakeholders. Her extensive experience and knowledge of key concepts -- including gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) and intersectionality -- have been appreciated by both staff and senior managers at WAGE. 

Germaine holds a Specialized Bachelor’s degree in Human Sciences (Conflict Studies) from Saint Paul University. She has also completed several training sessions on diversity and inclusion issues offered by the Public Service of Canada, as well as training on mediation and negotiation offered by the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution.

Germaine Chazou-Essindi is the recipient of the Excellence in Innovation Award and the Inspiration Award from WAGE. She is a dynamic, committed leader with integrity who has been involved in the community since her teenage years. Her dedication has earned her three Lioness of the Year Awards from the Cameroonian Community of Canada.

Germaine lives in Ottawa with her husband and two boys.

Photo: Germaine Chazou-Essindi.