Hi I'm Isobel

Never be behind a curtain, I can help you be the best you can be.

The Flaming Lily

The Flame Lily "Gloriosa Superba" is a symbol of purity and beauty around the world, but in Zimbabwe it has been woven into the country’s history.   It can climb up to eight feet using tendrils and the flower can reach five inches across. The contrast of the bright red and yellow petals on rocky outcrops in semi-shaded areas, such as forests, makes it a target for poachers.

It was the national flower of Rhodesia and remained so when the country gained independence in 1980 and became Zimbabwe. In 1947 when the current queen of Great Britain, Elizabeth visited Zimbabwe as a princess, she was given a diamond brooch in the shape of a Flame Lily by the people of then Rhodesia. 

Flaming Lily

About Me

Where does one start to describe themselves?  I was born in Bulawayo then Rhodesia now Zimbabwe during segregation. In hindsight there is a lot about my childhood that cannot be filed under “normal” although at the time it was all I knew. My parents were a mixed race couple so growing up in segregation meant that my community was marginalized. Worse still within my own community privilege was given according to complexion and degree of wealth. Being dark in complexion did not work in my favor in many ways.

I came to Canada and left Zimbabwe in 1989 with three young children and a husband. We came to Canada because we determined, that we did not want our children growing up in an oppressive environment.  We wanted to give them the opportunity to be whatever they chose to be.

We chose Ottawa because I liked the sound and meaning of the name.   Growing up we had never really belonged, so I wanted my children to experience being a part of a community which embraced them by not what they looked like, but by their contribution.

Some say I have a big presence but I would tell anyone who asks “I am present right here in this moment with you, and at this present moment you matter so I am listening with my heart first and my head second”. I live life in the present and I cherish moments.

When I laugh with you or alone, I laugh from my core, I laugh with all of who I am, and when I cry (mostly tearless) I can sometimes be seen cool and unfeeling but I feel very deeply and I love very deeply too, I am fiercely loyal and everything I do is a legacy of love to a life I feel privileged to have been blessed to live out.

Lessons Start Young

01.

I love to sing

One of my first defining moments happened when I was only 8 years old. From the time I learned to talk I became very well known as a talented singer. I sang in the Church choir as well as community events some times for very large crowds. When I sang, it did not seem to matter to anyone that I was dark in complexion.

02.

The school play

The primary school I attended would put on a play, where the Mayor and other important guests from the city would attend. Some of the important guests who were mainly white, would only come into our neighbor once a year for the big event, since we were segregated this was considered by members of my community as an honor. I was always chosen to participate, mainly to sing, and because I sang so well, I was one of the children who never had to audition.

03.

Princess is born

The usual director was away when the replacement director had chosen me,  to my surprise, to be the  princess with a very important solo part. It had escaped my notice that up until that time, the roles assigned to me had always been an animal, a tree, a flower or some other inanimate object.  What soon became evident was that in each of these roles my face was covered so people in the audience could not see my dark skin, they just heard my voice.

04.

Behind the curtain

Upon the directors return from her time away, immediately after realizing that I had been given a leading role, removed me from the stage and placed a fair skinned, longhaired girl to play princess. I sang the song from behind the curtain while the fair skinned girl mimed on the stage.   The teacher who had chosen me for the part was enraged, after the show she grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me and even though her anger scared me I realized that she was fighting for me, to this day I have never forgotten her words to me, she said “Isobel never let anyone put you behind the curtain again”. The important lesson I learned on that day has stayed with me all these years.

Isobel

Wings Of A Mother

Holding your child in your arms for the first time is an experience, which words alone cannot describe; it is the most wonderful experience and the most daunting at the same time.

I understood the word “protect” and all its synonyms for the very first time; I knew I would protect this little person with my life if I had to “The power of a mother’s love”. It was not until I had my own children that I fully understood why my mother was so hurt and seemed angry at my decision to join the BSAP, “I was going to a place where her wings could not span the distance to shelter me”. Although she reconciled with and became proud of my decision in latter years she worried endlessly about her boys in the military and me her middle daughter in the police force during a very tumultuous civil war.

I have a great relationship with my children, not by any means is it perfect. They are three very similar and very different individuals. I don’t love them the same but I don’t love anyone of them any less than I love the other. They bring “different” to my life and I think I do the same for them. From them I learned to navigate love, joy, pain, frustration and oceans of emotion but most of all I learned about my own strength that I am a lot stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for.

My Career

I stumbled into the beginnings of my career, as there were not many opportunities for someone of mixed race where even in a bi-racial neighborhood a lighter complexion meant better access to opportunity.

My first job was as a receptionist in a restaurant but because I am dark in complexion I was moved to a back office so customers would hear me but not have to see me, it wasn’t good for business.

When I applied to the Police Force I did it to make a point, as I knew they would invite me in for an interview assuming I was white. They did. What followed was a series of interviews and tests and a job offer at a time when people like me were not allowed into the ranks of the British South Africa Police (BSAP).

That experience changed my life, I learned that unless the word “no” is the answer when I am trying to access anything, it means whatever is ahead of me is a barrier, which can be overcome and sometimes even a “no” can be overcome. I learned tenacity.

Write Me, Let's Talk.

Awards

Awards2015 Member of The Order of Merit Canada

What I do is always because it's who I am.  When I'm recognized for being me, I feel humbled and grateful.

01.

Margaret Eve Leadership Award for Women in Law (OWLE - 2003)
Demonstrated excellence in leadership, community service, mentoring, excellence in performance and team endeavours.

02.

Black Leaders Leading Award from Profiles in Diversity Journal – North America (2008)
This award is given to women executives that have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership in their careers

03.

Martin Luther King Dream Keepers Citation for Outstanding Leadership (2009) This award is given annually, on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day celebrations in the City of Ottawa.  Presented to Isobel for demonstrating herself to be a role model in Ottawa and beyond for the values and principles of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

04.

Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award (2009)
The Communication and Leadership Award is presented by the district to a person in the community who is an outstanding communicator or leader.

Mobirise2017 Harry Jerome National Award for Public Advocacy

05.

Black Women’s Civic Engagement Network (BWCEN) Community Leadership Award (2012) 
For advocating on behalf of issues affecting women and whose hard work, excellence, professionalism and service has made a profound difference in the lives of women.

06.

Member of The Order of Merit Canada (2015)
Staff Sgt. Isobel Granger, of the Ottawa Police Service, is invested as Member to The Order of Merit of the Police Forces by Governor General David Johnston during a ceremony at Rideau Hall, Friday Sept. 18, 2015.

07.

International Peace Operations Commemorative Coin (2015)  
Isobel received this recognition for her 2015 deployment to Cambodia, where she was part of an international team investigating war crimes against former Democratic of Kampuchea State leaders during the Khmer Rouge era of Cambodia, where close to two million Cambodians were killed.

08.

Harry Jerome National Award for Public Advocacy (2017)
The Harry Jerome Awards celebrates excellence in achievement in the Black community. One of the most prestigious events in Canada. A highly valued symbol of achievement, this Award is a coveted possession of business people, professionals, athletes, academics, artists and community leaders who receive it. Award recipients are selected from among Canada-wide nominees. Among those present at the 2017 awards in Toronto, were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Smashing The Glass Ceiling

Release date in 2019

Book

The saying “Sometimes you travel a long way to go a short distance” applies to me, it has taken me along time to get to where I am and I know that many women experience the barriers and road blocks I experienced along the way.

I want to use my book to pave a way so that women don’t have to strive as much as they do to get favour or jobs which they are qualified for. I want them to know they don’t have to give away pieces of themselves in the process and I want them to know that they can be successful and happier if they maintain their individual authenticity.

Smashing the Glass Ceiling is a tool to help those who are feeling stuck, frustrated and constantly striking out on the corporate carousel.

Those who are looking to embark on a career, are at the preliminary stages of their careers or for one or a number of reasons think they may not ‘make the cut’ because they are not willing to sell-out on who they are to achieve their goals.

This book is for them!

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Isobel

Let's Talk!

I'd be more than pleased to talk to you or your workgroup about breaking through barriers to success.

My City

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Ready to talk?

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