How I Made It

Pascale Diverlus, Activist

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Pascale Diverlus headshot

Pascale Diverlus; Toronto; @pascalediverlus


Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

I am a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto. I am a freedom fighter and a revolutionist.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I just graduated with a bachelor of journalism from Ryerson University.

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

The very first action [Black Lives Matter Toronto] ever did was a response to the murder of Mike Brown. I remember watching the news every day anticipating a verdict or decision on whether the officer that killed him would be held accountable in any way; not surprisingly, they were not. Mike Brown’s murder hit me really hard; I grieved like a member of my family had been killed. In retrospect, I think it was also the fleeting hope I had in society that had died as well. We planned that first vigil because we felt there may be other people in our city that were feeling very similar—what we saw was thousands of people come out in a frigid November night. Thousands of people cried, held hands, and shared stories. Shouting “Black Lives Matter” over and over that night inspired me and stirred the fighter in me—the space that we created was so essential for healing and reaffirming ourselves and each other of our worth. I knew that night that we were on the brink of something special and we couldn’t stop there.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

Never a failure, always a lesson. Everything is a stepping stone to something better.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Don’t ask for permission.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

Being an activist and a journalist is this big taboo in my field. I’ve had professors try to dissuade me from continuing my activism in fear I wouldn’t be able to get a job or be taken seriously.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

Existing at the intersections of being a black woman often means you are seldom respected. Often times I feel like I’m fighting for that. Misogyny is a bitch.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it

I think most young black women always have some sort of side hustle. The cost of living in the city is skyrocketing. Black families, black immigrants, black queer and trans people and their families are being pushed out, while simultaneously dealing with precarious work, underemployment and unemployment in general. In order to survive in this city we are taking on multiple sources of income to be able to support ourselves. I’ve had a side hustle from my first year in the city. I have had various side hustles from braiding and weaving hair to doing anti-oppression facilitations and keynote engagements, all while maintaining a full-time job and trying to go to school.

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