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In Can You Hear Me Now?, Celina Caesar-Chavannes digs deep into her childhood and her life as a young Black woman entrepreneur and politician, and shows us that effective and humane leaders grow as much from their mistakes and vulnerabilities as from their strengths.
Celina Caesar-Chavannes, already a breaker of boundaries as a Black woman in business, got into politics because she wanted to make a bigger difference in the world. But when she became the first Black person elected to represent the federal riding of Whitby, Ontario, she hadn't really thought about the fact that Ottawa wasn't designed for someone like her. Celina soon found herself both making waves and breaking down, confronting at night, alone in her Ottawa apartment, all the painful beauty of her childhood and her troubled early adult life. She paid the price for speaking out about micro-aggressions and speaking up for her community and her riding, but she also felt exhilaration and empowerment. As she writes, "This is not your typical leadership book where the person is placed in a situation and miraculously comes up with the right response for the wicked problem. This is the story of me falling in love, at last, with who I am, and finding my voice in the unlikeliest of places."
Both memoir and leadership book, Can You Hear Me Now? is a funny, self-aware, poignant, confessional and fierce look at how failing badly and screwing things up completely are truly more powerful lessons in how to conduct a life than extraordinary success. They build an utter honesty with yourself and others that allows you to say things nobody else dares to say--the necessary things about navigating the places that weren't built for you and holding firm to your principles. And, if you do that, you will help build a world where inclusion is real. Just as Celina is now trying to do, in all her brilliance and boldness.
About the Author
CELINA CAESAR-CHAVANNES is an equity and inclusion advocate and leadership consultant, and a former Member of Parliament who served as parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to the Minister of International Development et la Francophonie. During her political career, Celina advocated for people suffering with mental illness and was given the Champion of Mental Health Parliamentarian Award in May 2017 by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health. That year she was also named one of the Global 100 Under 40 Most Influential People of African Descent (Politics & Governance category) and Black Parliamentarian of the Year. After she stepped away from the Liberal Party to sit as an independent member in 2019, Celina was picked as one of Chatelaine Magazine's Women of the Year. Before entering politics, she was a successful entrepreneur, launching and growing an award-winning research management consulting firm, with a particular focus on neurological conditions. Celina was the recipient of both the Toronto Board of Trade's Business Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012 and the 2007 Black Business and Professional Association's Harry Jerome Young Entrepreneur Award. Celina holds an MBA in Healthcare Management from the University of Phoenix as well as an Executive MBA from the Rotman School of Management. She is currently enrolled in a PhD program focused on organizational leadership at Northcentral University. She lives in Whitby, Ontario, with her three children, and her husband, Dr. Vidal Chavannes.
“I can hear you, C3. I found myself tearing up in parts and chuckling in others—I heard your passionate voice, felt your determination and smiled at your undeniable wit, all reverberating throughout the pages of this book. Yours is an important journey. Thank you for telling it. You are as inspiring as you are authentic.” —Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canadian MP, and author of From Where I Stand
“Celina’s memoir is the perfect mix of coming-of-age story, radical authenticity and #BlackGirlMagic. Never has a former Canadian politician stripped down and shown up in such an honest way. If you can’t hear Celina by the time you’ve finished this book you need to get your hearing checked.” —Tracy Moore, host of Cityline
“Though you can learn from lost voices, you can learn more from those who have found their voices. Celina found hers.” —Tanya Tagaq, Polaris Prize-winning singer and artist, and author of Split Tooth
“Can You Hear Me Now took me on a roller coaster of emotions that pale in comparison to all the tragedies and triumphs that Celina has endured. As a Black mother, a Black woman in Canadian society, I have never resonated with a story more. Like Celina, I have often been the chocolate chip in the cookie, but you do not need to be of a certain race or gender to hear Celina loud and clear—which she absolutely deserves at long last.” —Tanya Hayles, founder of Black Moms Connection and anti-Black racism consultant
“Celina tells her story with the kind of whole-hearted and bare-faced honesty you don’t see in the ‘typical’ autobiography. Which makes sense, because for Celina there’s no such thing as ‘typical.’ And that’s what makes her book so refreshing, and delightfully fun and inspiring. Facing her failures (and her critics), Celina takes ownership of her journey—from self-made successful entrepreneur to social justice trailblazer.” —Kirstine Stewart, author of Our Turn, and Head of Shaping the Future of Media at the World Economic Forum