On Equity: An interview with Tina Strehlke

Tue, 10 Aug 2021

Chloe Sjuberg
Communications Coordinator, SFU Public Square

The views and opinions expressed in SFU Public Square's On Equity interviews are those of the interviewees. They do not necessarily reflect the official position of Simon Fraser University, SFU Public Square or any other affiliated institutions in any way.

The On Equity interview series is part of our 2021 Community Summit Series: Towards Equity. In these interviews, you’ll get to know people working towards equity, justice and systemic change from a variety of fields and perspectives, and learn how you can support them. We hope they will inform and inspire your own conversations and actions towards equity.

Read on to hear from Tina Strehlke, the chief executive officer at Minerva BC and a member of our Towards Equity advisory committee.

What do you want people to know about your work in pursuit of equity, justice and systemic change?

I lead Minerva BC, a Vancouver-based non-profit dedicated to advancing the leadership of self-identified women and girls across B.C. Our work is constantly evolving as we learn more and improve practices to be more equitable and inclusive to all women. In addition to conversations about gender equity, racial equity and Indigenous inclusion, my team also considers youth leadership, education and employment status, as well as urban/rural/remote locations, when designing our programs and services. As a settler-led organization, we approach our work with curiosity, humility, and willingness to learn and unlearn.

How do we make systemic change?

In our leadership programs, Minerva teaches leaders about systems change and the Cynefin framework. The key things for me are finding leverage points in a system, testing and probing ideas (rather than trying to craft a perfect solution—which doesn't exist), and engaging a network or community of support.

What does equity look like to you?

A world free of visible and invisible barriers, where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the guiding question for Towards Equity: What must we understand—and do—to recover equitably from the pandemic and reimagine our systems to confront the intersecting crises of inequality, systemic racism and climate change?

It's obvious to me that we need to listen to people who are and have been sharing their wisdom, ideas and expertise for decades. Inequality, systemic racism and climate change are not new problems. The experience of COVID has created motivation to shift our social and economic systems and "build back better.” Now is the time to listen to these leaders and allow them to guide the recovery. An incredible human that I had the privilege to work with at Minerva, Lisa Tallio, would always advocate for "unreasonable requests.” Whether of funders, our board, or program participants, she challenged us to think beyond what we thought was possible. I think it's time for this kind of vision and action.

What gives you hope? What inspires you?

The incredibly smart, community-minded, solution-focused people there are in the world, working on big wicked problems; and the capacity for learning and growth that we have as human beings. This is what makes change possible.

Many people are passionate and concerned, but also unsure of how best to take action. What can people do? Can you recommend actions to help our readers direct their energy?

I’ll use this space to amplify recommendations made by Kris Archie, a Secwepemc woman and Seme7 settler, who leads The Circle on Philanthropy. She encourages people to give often, give generously and give locally to Indigenous-led organizations and projects who are doing the work in your community. This Twitter thread is full of great suggestions on where to start.

If this Towards Equity Community Summit Series had a playlist, what artists or songs would you want to see on it?

Great question! I'd add Ndidi Cascade.

What individuals or organizations should we be paying attention to and supporting?

Support them by attending their events, contracting their services, and sharing their good work!

Who should we interview next?

Any of the leaders from the organizations listed above, including:

  • Ruth Mojeed Ramirez (Chief Equity Officer, The Inclusion Project)
  • Trish Mandewo (President and Founder, Synergy On Boards)
  • Kristen Liesch and Anna Dewar Gully (Co-Chief Executive Officers and Co-Founders, Tidal Equality)
  • Manpreet Dhillon (Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Veza Global)
  • Mariam Bouchoutrouch (Executive Director, Pacific Immigrant Resources Society)
  • Myia Antone (Founder and Director, Indigenous Women Outdoors)
  • Kiana Alexander-Hill (Lead Executive Officer, Raven Institute)
  • Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee (Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Nahanee Creative)

Who would you like to hear from in an upcoming interview? What other questions would you like us to ask interviewees? Let us know. Send your ideas to Chloe Sjuberg, Communications Coordinator, at

On Equity Interviews