Manager, Indigenous Knowledge and Reconciliation. Nuclear Waste Management Organisation
As an undergrad at York University, Pamela Bishop-Byers designed a personal mission statement as she prepared for her professional career: “To create effective two-way democratic communications between an organisation and its various publics”. This statement would guide her choices as a grad student at Syracuse University, followed by 10 years working in New York City for organisations like the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Working across industries in New York allowed Pamela to hone the skills she relies on today to turn challenging conversations into positive learning experiences. So, when Pamela hit the ten-year mark of her professional career and decided to establish familial roots in Ontario – encouraged by the concentration and diversity of its Indigenous peoples – this skillset evolved into a specialisation.
In Toronto, Pamela saw her audience change from non-Indigenous people with limited knowledge of Indigenous cultures to working directly with Indigenous communities. In her new role as Manager of Indigenous Knowledge and Reconciliation at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), Pamela’s mission statement has evolved to interweaving Indigenous voices and knowledge into the management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. “Creating authentic two-way communications between an organisation and its audiences is very relevant to this position because it’s about approaching work with a humble leadership style of actively listening more than you’re speaking and being thoughtful about actions that stem from what you hear,” says Pamela.
An IABC/Toronto member since 2020, Pamela volunteers with the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee. She describes working with other passionate communicators on the team as “food for my soul.” As a dedicated professional, Pamela has also gained an extended network to talk about the importance of Indigenous communications with IABC Toronto’s Board of Directors and IABC Canada East Region’s Board, which consists of 7 chapters (IABC London, Maritime, QC, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, Toronto and Waterloo). When asked to advise up-and-coming communications professionals, Pamela emphasises the practice of creating a personal mission statement, stressing the importance of defining what’s important to you as a communication professional, and staying true to or evolving with that definition throughout your career journey. “I’m constantly returning to it,” says Pamela, “asking, ‘Am I being true to my mission statement?’”