Our People Impact Story

The beginning of the 2020 – 2021 fiscal year maps almost perfectly onto the first pandemic-related shut-down in Alberta. Many of our projects at PolicyWise were underway – the Apprenticeship Program Data Integration and the Multi-Year Trauma Action Plan were two such examples. Others came about in response to the pandemic, like the Improving Online Programming project. Like many of our project teams, the Build Better Data team was in the planning stage, the partners and collaborators were on-board, and our team was ready to launch the project. And then, all of a sudden we found ourselves, like so many others, navigating the new world of working from home. We knew we were the lucky ones. We could move our offices into spare rooms, empty closets, and basement corners while so many others had to head out into the eye of the storm. They kept essential services running, cared for our vulnerable, and taught our children. Meanwhile, as days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, we entered the private spaces of our colleagues and collaborators. We heard children cry, saw the breakfast dishes, and watched as the cat jumped up for a cuddle. Life and work collided. We stared into our screens. Staring back were familiar faces drawn anew with worry, fear, and uncertainty. We had no choice but to shift. But, it is in how we shifted where the real story lies. The Build Better Data Team embraced the messiness and vulnerability of this ‘new normal.’ With a need to embrace flexibility, online meetings, and the constant uncertainty, they worked with greater intentionality, grace, and humanity. They stripped away the ‘nice to haves.’ In doing so they focused on the project’s core aim – to build capacity for more ethical demographic data collection – a need that was intensified by the social inequities laid bare by the pandemic. We have all been changed by the past year. How we work has also changed. At PolicyWise, like the Build Better Data Team, we are proud of who we have become – stronger, more resilient, and increasingly able to bring our whole selves to the work that we do.